06Jun

Nurses and doctors who treat patients with COVID-19 are rightfully celebrated as heroes of the pandemic. First responders, hospital orderlies, janitors, housekeepers and medical workers playing a support role in the fight against the virus are being cheered loudly and publicly and on social media posts worldwide.

Those are the ones we see and hear about daily. Yet there is another group of professionals laboring behind the scenes, often remotely, whose vital work goes unsung. These are the case managers — nurses or social workers in most cases — who, explains Wil Shelton, “coordinate with physicians, nurses, mental health and insurance companies, and family and friends of the patient, their client.”

His wife is one.

“Case managers are in a battle behind the scenes, huddling daily to plan for the next six months. But mostly these men and women are alone, hunched over computers in trenches of their bedrooms or living rooms, making frantic phone calls, staying focused on the needs of patients even when their families need them, too.”

In just one week, Shelton says, his wife helped cancer patients unable to see their oncologist because offices are closed. She worked with the family of a 2-year-old asthma patient discharged home because his doctor’s office, too, was closed. Then there were the terminally ill patients who contracted COVIC-19 and had to be isolated from family when, he notes sadly, “time with them matters most.”

That doesn’t even include the administrative tasks like finding an empty bed, handling records, tracking patients and hunting down busier-than-ever doctors and nurses.

“All of these situations bring tears, confusion, fear, and loss — all of which my wife, and case managers like her, are supposed to alleviate from a remote location with little support and in the middle of a system plagued by glitches and breakdowns,” says Shelton.

“Please,” he ends his post, speaking to all of us, “Be kind to your case worker. He or she is making a great sacrifice to ensure the best outcome for you.”

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

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Green Key

Winning Teams Solve Pandemic Problems in First Nurse Hackathon

Five teams of nurses and technologists are winners for the innovative projects they entered in the first Nurse Hack 4 Health virtual hackathon.

sen out of 30 entries, the winning teams earned the highest scores for their solutions to challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic laid out in five categories ranging from “Acute Care Patient Monitoring” to “Resiliency & Self-Care.”

Sponsored by Microsoft, John & Johnson, dev up and the Society of Nurse Scientists, Innovators, Entrepreneurs & Leaders (SONSEIL), the entries were judged on “solutions that answer the challenge, but also do so in a way that balances simplicity with creativity.” A second criterion was the project’s readiness: “High scores will be given to solutions that are ready to deploy, provide appropriate instruction for use, etc.”

The 25 judges included practicing nurses, Microsoft’s chief nursing officer, the dean of nursing at the University of Pennsylvania, software application and development firm executives, the head of Deloitte’s Healthcare Transformation team and senior executives in technology and nursing and HCP strategy at Johnson & Johnson.

All the participating team solutions that made it to the final round are open source, posted on GitHub to enable health systems and others to, as the hackathon sponsors explained, “make changes needed to fit their systems or processes.”

From DailyNurse, here is a brief look at the winners and their projects. (The links go to each team’s video presentation for the judges):

Resiliency & Self-Care category – The team developed Well Nurse a peer-to-peer app to help nurses cope with stress, connect with one another, and identify best practices to foster mental well-being.

Acute Care Patient Monitoring category — HearNow connects patients and their loved ones separated by social distancing. With this system, loved ones can transmit video and audio messages from home that nurses can share when patients are alert and in need of comfort.

Data & Reporting category – The team’s project Activate School Nurses connects h school nurses with nursing students in need of clinical experience who will assist them in preparing for school reopening and maintain and monitor student health data to reduce the danger of further outbreaks.

Patient Care Coordination category – In a busy facility, it can take time to locate needed equipment. Nurse GPS proposes to solve that challenge by tracking equipment, giving nurses the floor and room location for each device. The aim is to reduce delays and lessen the danger of infection by making it unnecessary for a nurse to leave and reenter a room multiple times.

At-Home Patient Monitoring category – Social distancing and stay at home directives are driving a boom in telemedicine. But in areas with broadband access and among groups, especially seniors, without smartphones, remote access to medical professionals is difficult or impossible. Project Flourish works around those limitations, using a 1990s era technology to broaden the reach of telemedicine in rural areas and among seniors.  

Photo by Ani Kolleshi on Unsplash

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Green Key