Nurses Showcase Practice Innovations
Developed in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
January 27th, 4 pm to 5 pm ET

Humanized PPE, a postmortem care team, rounding to support colleagues and
a respite room improve the care experience for patients and staff.

Stony Brook, N.Y. Three nurse leaders who responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by developing novel approaches to caring for patients and their coworkers will share their innovations during a Stony Brook School of Nursing panel discussion January 27, 4 pm to 5 pm ET. Such practice innovations rarely get the attention received by new technologies, but they are having a profound impact on how patients, families and nurses experience care.

Behind their masks, clinicians can become indistinguishable — to patients and even to each other. Nurse practitioner April Plank, DNP, RN, discovered this when she first entered Stony Brook Hospital’s COVID-19 stepdown intensive care unit (ICU) and saw everyone suited up in full protective garb. “I didn’t even know who I was working with,” she recalls. “When the first patient arrived, they had panic in their eyes. We all looked the same.”

On her lunch break, Plank took a selfie and printed it out. She wrote her name and title next to the photo and added a message: “We’ll get through this together.” Since 40% of the patients on the unit did not speak English, she translated the text into Spanish before laminating the sign and affixing it to her gown. Plank’s communication tool was immediately embraced by her coworkers. She went on to develop another tool that families could use to convey key information about their loved ones, and both innovations spread throughout the hospital’s COVID-19 units.

Plank, an alumna of Stony Brook School of Nursing who normally works at the hospital’s Center for Lung Cancer Screening and Prevention, is one of three school-affiliated nurses who will share their innovations at the forum.

Another presenter, Suzanne Marriott, MS, BSN, PMH-BC, is associate director of nursing in the department of psychiatric behavioral health at the hospital and a PhD student at the nursing school. At the start of the pandemic, she recalls, “we were delivering PPE [personal protective equipment] and realized there was a lot of trauma on the units — both from caring for COVID patients and from being away from their families.” Marriott responded by making psychiatric nurses available on the COVID units to provide emotional support to the entire staff. She also set up a respite area where staff could nap, take showers, listen to music, get snacks and talk with a mental health nurse at any hour of the day or night. “People really appreciated having in-the-moment support on their units and having a safe, warm, welcoming environment to retreat to when things got difficult,” she says.

The event will also feature a practice innovation instituted at Northwell Health’s Southside Hospital. Stony Brook School of Nursing alumna Trisha A. Lewis, MSN, CNM, the hospital’s director of education and research, wanted to reduce the emotional toll on nurses who had cared for COVID-19 patients during their dying moments. Her solution was the creation of a “gentle hands” team to relieve unit nurses from providing compassionate postmortem care. She staffed the team with nurse educators, freeing the unit nurses to attend to their other patients.

The panel discussion is free to the public and will be delivered remotely. Participants are asked to register in advance. The talk is one in a series of events marking the school’s 50th year and the 25th year of the school’s Midwifery Program.

Photos of April Plank, Suzanne Marriott and their innovations are available for use by the media upon request.

Contact: Wesam Hassanin. (631) 444-1041                                      
[email protected]