A Penn Nurse Performs an Integral Function in Momentary COVID-19 Hospital

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For so long as he can keep in mind, Kerwin Barden has put the wants of others forward of his personal. That’s how he explains his determination to enlist, at 19 years outdated, within the New Jersey Air Nationwide Guard as a medic 24 years in the past. He later went on to earn a bachelor’s diploma in biology and grow to be a registered nurse.

In December 2008, Barden joined the cardiovascular step-down unit on the Hospital of the College of Pennsylvania (HUP), which cares for sufferers who’re capable of go away important care however nonetheless require a excessive degree of monitoring of their restoration. There he stuffed a wide range of roles over the subsequent 4 years, together with cost nurse. From there, he moved to the cardiac electrophysiology division at HUP. Then, in 2019, Barden joined the electrophysiology staff at Chester County Hospital, which treats irregular coronary heart rhythms.

Nonetheless a member of the Air Nationwide Guard, Barden is now a captain and chief nurse for the 177th Fighter Wing in Atlantic Metropolis, NJ, the place he oversees a employees of 18 medics. He’s additionally answerable for a number of well being, wellness, and security applications on the bottom, an immense endeavor, although Barden says his “primary accountability” is immunizations, even effectively earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic. At any given second, each soldier stationed on the base should be ready to deploy, and which means, partly, being updated with their vaccinations.

Requested if his job has been made tougher by the pandemic and the following vaccine rollout, Barden says, “Sure and no. As soon as COVID-19 hit, I knew everybody was going to be deployed, myself included.” Certain sufficient, the decision got here the night time of March 31, 2020. He was to report the subsequent morning at 8 a.m.

Quickly, Barden’s mixture of scientific data and deft talent at enhancing operations was put to the check — and he has since taken lots of the classes realized in his deployment again to his deal with wonderful, environment friendly care at CCH.

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An unprecedented state of affairs

Barden and the 177th have been charged with serving to to run a 250-bed area medical station on the Meadowlands Exposition Middle, in Secaucus, N.J. The medical station was one in every of three that have been erected in northern New Jersey final spring in response to the general public well being emergency declared in New Jersey.

The big empty house was remodeled right into a medical facility utilizing FEMA supplies packed a decade earlier. The said aim was to “present some quick aid for hospitals in northern New Jersey that have been at battle with an epidemic.” With COVID-19 intensive care models throughout the area at or past capability, these three area medical stations have been designed to supply “hospital look after low-acuity sufferers.”

However when Barden arrived onsite on April 3, it was instantly obvious that the Meadowlands medical station was a great distance from caring for anybody. Within the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, he was deployed to completely operational area medical stations in New Orleans. In distinction, the Meadowlands was a cavernous house with rows of beds. Every part would must be discovered, from the way to transport sufferers to and from the bogs to the way to comply with up with their physicians ought to there be any questions on their care.

It was an intense and unprecedented state of affairs for which there was not a single working process in place.

“I used to be chosen, together with one other captain and a doctor in my unit, to provide you with all the mandatory protocols with the medical station’s chief medical and nursing officers,” Barden says. “We did that in two days. After which we spent the subsequent two days organising the medical station and coaching the employees.”

The primary sufferers have been admitted on April 7, Barden’s fifth morning on the medical station. A lot of his time was dedicated to the medical station’s logistics. Whereas the New Jersey Military and Air Nationwide Guard operated the medical station collectively, lots of the distributors and healthcare suppliers have been civilian. And the turnover among the many suppliers was excessive. Barden estimates that in his roughly two months on the medical station, there have been greater than 300 completely different healthcare suppliers, every of which wanted to be skilled within the medical station’s particular protocols.

Simply because the operation lastly started to discover a rhythm, the medical station was moved to a different constructing.

“We needed to revise the entire insurance policies and procedures, however not less than we weren’t ranging from sq. one,” Barden says.

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Collaboration saves the day

The medical station cared for lots of of sufferers throughout Barden’s tour. In a letter to Chester County Hospital CEO Michael Duncan, David J. Adinaro, MD, M.Eng, FACEP, and Patti Drabik, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, the chief medical and nursing officers of the Secaucus medical station, respectively, described Barden as “the hyperlink between the care within the ‘scorching zone’ and our command middle within the ‘chilly zone.’ His maturity, dedication, and scientific data have been important to our success.”

Barden defers to these he served alongside. “Our staff did an important job of recognizing points and rapidly developing with options,” he says. “I relayed these concepts to the CMO and CNO, and we agreed on an answer collectively.”

One of the beneficial classes he left the medical station with is that there’s at all times room for enchancment, particularly throughout a pandemic. Consistently addressing inefficiencies interprets to minimizing publicity dangers to sufferers, he says.

When Barden transferred to Chester County Hospital in 2019, he says he was tasked with serving to the electrophysiology lab grow to be extra environment friendly, an endeavor that he now considers successful. For instance, the turnover time between instances involving anesthesia has been diminished to lower than a 3rd of what it was beforehand.

“That not solely had a optimistic influence on our capability to do our jobs, however it additionally actually helped with affected person satisfaction,” says Monica Pammer, PA-C, the lead doctor assistant within the electrophysiology lab at Chester County Hospital.

Since he returned to the lab at Chester County Hospital in June, Barden, with the teachings from the medical station nonetheless contemporary in his thoughts, has been working towards streamlining the protocols for ablations, a process accomplished to deal with irregular coronary heart beat situations. He has additionally examined the lab’s emergency preparedness, “which he’s confirmed us, isn’t solely about having what we want when the time comes, but in addition ensuring that it’s organized in an intuitive method,” Pammer says.

The electrophysiology lab was relocated during the last 12 months to a brand new bigger, state-of-the-art facility as a part of a $300-million enlargement on the hospital. Barden, was integrally concerned in configuring the brand new structure, which made “the adjustment simpler for all of us,” Pammer says.

The transfer introduced not solely a wealth of recent expertise, together with a complicated electroanatomic mapping ablation system, however a variety of new employees members to assist meet the elevated capability. Leaning on the expertise he gained his deployment final spring, Barden created a digital onboarding program to make sure that new hires have been totally briefed on procedures and expectations.

Pammer says his prowess with expertise has been an amazing asset to the electrophysiology lab. Upon his arrival in 2019, he helped implement a brand new on-line affected person administration system after he was concerned in getting the identical system up and operating at HUP. He continues to deal with most troubleshooting with the system for the lab, Pammer says.

What resonates with Barden most about his deployment is the ability of collaboration. Pammer, who labored with Barden at HUP 5 years in the past, says he has at all times been team-oriented. “He will get everybody concerned, and everybody seems like they’re contributing,” she says.

Barden noticed the ability of collaboration in motion once more on the primary day on the medical station’s second location final summer season, when a serious flaw was found within the design. The executive workplace was situated on the primary ground, proper subsequent to the constructing’s two elevators. Bringing sufferers out and in and donning and doffing private protecting gear there would danger unfold.

“We got here collectively and figured on the market was an elevator that ran right down to the basement. With that new entry level, we have been capable of provide you with an alternate plan fairly rapidly,” Barden says. “Again and again, we hit a roadblock. However we at all times regrouped and located a brand new route.”

Barden’s army coaching has taught him to at all times put together for the unknown. It’s how he was capable of stay undaunted final spring within the face of a torrent of obstacles. And whereas the electrophysiology lab at Chester County Hospital might by no means attain the feverish pitch of a area medical station on the onset of a pandemic, Barden is aware of, along with his each day work, there’s nonetheless monumental worth in getting ready and collaborating.

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