A resilient team of nurses and doctors is what has kept Longview Hospital strong and united as the world enters the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Doctors, staff and nurses at Longview Regional Medical Center came up with creative innovations on what has helped them get through the global health crisis in our lifetime. From Year 1 to present, LRMC continues to grow from lessons learned throughout the pandemic.
The pandemic presented many challenges for the hospital, starting with day-to-day procedures and normal processes. A hospital spokesperson said these challenges have turned into opportunities for stronger unity between doctors and hospital staff, including improved communication and additional support for employees which has ultimately strengthened the ‘team.
Quickly but effectively, Longview Regional Medical Center CEO Steve Gordon said the hospital had to figure out how to handle large volumes of sick patients and how to persevere through staffing, supply chains and the challenges of capacity, much like hospitals across the country.
According to Gordon, the visitor restriction was an unforeseen challenge. Ultimately, this led to creative methods for allowing family members to see their loved ones who were in the hospital.
As hospital staff value and regularly need the involvement of family to move their patients’ healing process forward, the hospital team members stepped in and provided comfort. Communication with caregivers’ families became more critical, and staff consistently provided updates to families who could not be safely at the bedside of their patients.
This meant that more family members received insurance, but it also placed more responsibility on hospital caregivers. Gordon said he was proud of caregivers who have adapted to the new dynamic with grace and compassion.
Prepared for the unexpected
The mental component of the pandemic was perhaps the most unforeseen hurdle hospitals had to overcome.
“The longevity and intensity of the pandemic and its emotional impact, not just on our caregivers and patients, but on the community as a whole, was another unique hurdle to contend with,” Gordon said.
Hospitals are constantly undergoing emergency management training for weather disasters, utility disruptions, mass casualty events and other emergency situations, which has prepared the hospital care team for the challenges presented by COVID. They were ready for the unexpected.
“The length of time we have faced (the pandemic) has made this challenge unique compared to the typical emergency situations we face. Most of these scenarios have a very limited duration, so the intensity of exertion is limited to a period of several weeks at worst,” Gordon said.
One of the things Longview Regional Medical Center did to support its employees was to include in-house counseling services, which were regularly provided for any areas requiring additional support.
“Throughout this pandemic, we remain focused on maintaining the mental well-being of our staff, which has required new techniques from hospital leaders. We value the mental health and well-being of our team at all times, especially around an ongoing pandemic. Our hospital maintains contracts and relationships with mental health providers to help staff through incidents,” LRMC said in a statement. “Mental health specialists visit the hospital directly on a regular basis, so that staff and resources are available to help them through the emotional and mental challenges of the pandemic.”
Gordon added that several initiatives have been put in place, including access to a 24-hour emotional support line and an on-site counselor to visit staff regularly. The hospital has also made efforts to recognize its team members to prioritize their value.
“Longview Regional’s leadership team values and is focused on building a strong culture of wellness to ensure clinician well-being through daily leadership rounds. Our team sees this responsibility as a shared organizational value to help establish and promote clinician wellness throughout the year to support our caregivers and help them navigate what they are going through,” said said Gordon.
The pandemic’s best moments came when the East Texas community showed solidarity and support for local healthcare workers.
“The level of support and care shown by the great Longview was unexpected, humbled and greatly appreciated,” Gordon said.
A prayer walk brought together hospital staff and providers, family and community members to pray for the well-being and safety of healthcare heroes, patients and the community of Longview. Weekly recognition events were also held, including meals, snacks, snow cones, ice cream and many other small tokens to celebrate providers’ resilient care and try to make their days a little brighter.
“Many companies and individuals have supported our healthcare heroes with meals, snacks and notes to boost the morale of our staff. Many local businesses, even though their own business was experiencing challenges due to the impact of COVID, still cared and felt compelled to support our staff,” Gordon said.
According to Gordon, there were also community groups that offered signs and notes to let staff know they were appreciated. Families of patients, both those who survived and those who lost their battle with COVID, reached out to healthcare workers with food and thank you cards for the staff who cared for them. their loved one. Schools also sent handwritten notes of thanks and support that meant a lot to staff.
“Longview Regional recognizes the changes the pandemic has brought to healthcare and sincerely thanks and appreciates the dedicated healthcare heroes who have supported us and cared for our patients and our team. We also recognize this great community that we are privileged to serve, and we thank you for trusting us with the health and well-being of your family,” LRMC said in a statement.
Many organizations have also offered their own additional personal protective equipment or purchased masks, gowns and face shields when available. The hospital spokesperson said in some cases organizations have even found ways to make PPE for them.
“We cannot overestimate the positive impact all of this effort has had on our operations, but more importantly on the morale of our team members. Our community core is great, and we are incredibly proud to be part of that community. and to be responsible for helping to improve the health and well-being of the community,” Gordon said.