Pod Leader and SALMON VNA and Hospice Nurse | SALMON VNA and Hospice
The beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic was troubling for everyone, but especially for those in nursing roles, caring for frail individuals with a hands-on and personal approach.
“I’ve been a nurse for over 30 years, and this pandemic was frightening—it was something I had never experienced before,” explains Jacqui Harris, Pod Leader and member of the nursing team for SALMON’s VNA & Hospice in the Worcester Area.
However, as time passed, Harris started to feel more at ease. “There was so much support and teamwork; we had weekly COVID-task-force meetings with our executive director to make sure we understood any new guidelines, procedures, and information that was coming out. I’d then inform the nursing staff that I oversaw,” says Harris. It was an effective approach—all staff members were on the same page and could better inform Residents and their families as well.
“We had an outside professional come in, someone with knowledge and experience in infection control, and she told us how to handle our Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), what to do when we got home to decrease the risk of spreading anything to our families and more,” states Harris. The support and educational opportunities eventually calmed Harris, who says, “we were all in it together, and it made me feel so much better.”
Harris, who typically travels throughout the Worcester community, worked from The Willows at Worcester to decrease outside exposure and to better support the nurses who still traveled to individual residences. “Any time the nurses had a question or concern, they could use me and any other members of our team as a resource,” explains Harris. “When they needed more PPE, I would meet them outside with it, or we’d organize drive-bys; we always had plenty of PPE, and we realized as time went on, our organization was in better shape than many others.”
Harris continues, “The little things mean a lot; The Willows dining staff provided meals to staff every day; we’d receive care packages of snacks with hand-written notes—it was great.”
On a personal note, Harris’ first grandchild was born several months ago. “Thanks to PPE protocols and other infection control measures, I was able to be a part of everything with her—I didn’t miss out,” says Harris.
“The support myself and other staff members received during COVID enabled us to continue our duties and provide the care we need to,” concludes Harris.