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2022 New Jersey Chief Nursing Officers Roundtable : COVID‐19

COVID‐19 changed the role of nurses and the profession .
Compiled by Miles Z . Epstein Editor , COMMERCE

Nurses have been on the front lines of the COVID‐19 pandemic , working in direct patient care when the prescription for safety called for isolation and virtual work . When family members couldn ’ t visit the hospital or a dying loved one , it was nurses — geared in PPE — who maintained the human connection , often being the last to see those afflicted with COVID‐19 . Long hours , under pressure , the profession was changed by the pandemic and the role of nurses evolved , as well . COMMERCE asked many of New Jersey ’ s top hospitals to discuss this in our 2022 Chief Nursing Officers Roundtable featured here .

Atlantic Health System By Trish O ’ Keefe , Ph . D ., RN , Senior Vice President and Chief Nurse Executive ; President , Morristown Medical Center
Without question , the two-plus years of the COVID‐19 pandemic have had a tremendous impact on our nursing profession and highlighted their significant roles and unwavering courage , commitment and resilience . I am so enormously proud of how our nurses responded to the crisis by staying completely focused on their mission to deliver safe , extraordinary care to our patients . Healthcare is a team sport and nurses are inherently collaborative . Throughout the pandemic , our nurses demonstrated new and innovative ways to care for our patients and work together to solve complex challenges . We also learned how important it is to remain committed to the well-being of our nurses and ensure that they have all the necessary resources to allow them to continue to excel in their work . This includes offering opportunities to continue in their educational pursuits , as well as experimenting with new and creative ways to offer flexibility and mobility . Over the past two years , while we ’ ve seen a good number of nurses take early retirement , I ’ m encouraged to see even more pursuing nursing as a career . Our nurses have been a constant source of inspiration to me , and I am excited and optimistic about their bright future ahead .
Bergen New Bridge Medical Center By Thomas E . Amitrano , MPA , RN , Vice President , Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer
COVID‐19 changed the definition of what is a normal day at work . It ultimately uncovered the need for developing ways to help staff cope with loss on a grand scale . It showed us the resiliency of care providers who bonded together to provide care under unimaginable circumstances and find new and innovative ways , such as virtual care , to do it . We need to be ever-ready for the next and future public health events realizing what was normal is no more . Infection prevention and epidemiology must be introduced early on in nursing training and frequently repeated and reinforced , becoming the basic tenet of care . As nurses , we need to develop and maintain a real-time crisis support and coping system . We have an opportunity to work collaboratively with our mental health colleagues so we can better take care of ourselves to be able to best care for our patients .
Hackensack Meridian Health By Theresa M . Brodrick , RN , Ph . D ., NE-BC , EVP , Network Chief Nurse Executive
The compassion and competence of nurses has been moved to the forefront of public awareness , and there is greater recognition of the profession ’ s vast contributions not just to the COVID‐19 response , but to healthcare overall . The pandemic challenged our profession in ways we had never experienced before , helping to spur new innovations and
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Early in the pandemic , nurses provided comfort to patients when their families were unable to visit .
Photo : Getty Images / MartinPrescott
Personal protective equipment ( PPE ) for nurses was essential .
Photo : Getty Images / Feverpitched
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