Super Staff Beats Super Storm — Every Time

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November 2, 2012

The forecasts and predictions around Hurricane Sandy had much of the eastern third of the country braced for disaster. Baltimore saw heavy rains, wind and flooding. But the University of Maryland Medical Center didn’t skip a beat, thanks to the dedication of staff members who planned ahead or braved the elements to get to work. Their inspiration: hundreds of patients and colleagues were depending on them.

 We heard about staff taking extraordinary steps to be available for patients and to one another. If you have a story of your own, or you know of something that somebody else has done, drop us a line at communications@umm.edu.

 In the meantime, here are a few:

 From Karen E. Doyle, MBA, MS, RN, NEA-BC, vice president for nursing and operations at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center and for emergency nursing at UMMC:

“While I was making rounds yesterday [Oct. 29], I stopped and spoke to Darlene Currin, a housekeeping staff member in Shock Trauma working on 6 North.  I thanked her for being here, and told her that her work was really important.  She told me that she had just arrived (it was around 10:30 or 11:00 a.m.).  Darlene had walked all the way from East Baltimore to UMMC.  But, she knew she was needed and made the trek anyway.  Really unbelievable.  I was so inspired.”

 Currin (pictured above) said she doesn’t think she did anything that most of her colleagues wouldn’t do. “We all work here, we know it’s 24/7,” she said. On Monday morning, she was unable to get a taxi or sedan service (public transportation was shut down), so she decided to walk. It took her about 90 minutes.

 “I was soaked when I got here,” Currin said.

 From Monika Bauman, MS, RN, CEN, nurse manager for women’s and children’s ambulatory services:

“The hospital-based clinics officially closed on Tuesday due to the storm, but Ometriss Jeter, a scheduling and preauthorization coordinator who works in Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, reported for duty Tuesday morning at about 6 a.m.  She rounded in all of the outpatient registration areas offering her services and making sure they had adequate staffing for the day. Once she determined all was well, she reported to our clinic, even though it was closed, to be sure we were ready for operations as usual for tomorrow [Wednesday].”

 From Karen Cossentino, MS, RN, CCRN, senior clinical nurse II and charge nurse in the Cardiac Care Unit:

“I was in charge in the Cardiac Care Unit on Monday, Oct. 29, and it was an exceptionally busy day. So I would like to thank all the staff for working together. Two nurses deserve an extra thank you, but they asked that I not use their names. One of them had a vacation scheduled this week but offered to work for a nurse who is a new mother who would not have been able to get home after work on Monday to her 3-month-old baby.  Another nurse from Professional Development came to the unit and asked if we needed any help. I immediately took her up on her offer and she stayed most of the day and went from room to room and nurse to nurse and offered her assistance.”

From Rehana Qayyumi, MLS (ASCP), medical lab scientist, Microbiology Laboratory:

After making up my mind to stay [at work during the storm] on a very busy Monday, I did not have time to think about where I would stay after my shift. Then, our wonderful Microbiology Technical Specialist Donna Cashara, MLS(ASCP), asked me what I was  going to do.  I just told her, ‘Yes, I’m staying somewhere,’ while very busy with my assigned work.  Anyway, she personally walked two blocks away to the Marriott [as phone calls were not helpful] and reserved a room.  She was like an angel for me when I finally reached the room around 7 p.m. and took a shower and my medicines and bowed my head down for my unexpected landing in full luxury. Did I deserve it? Yes, I think all of us who decided to pay for comfortable accommodations to be ready for the next busy day deserved it.  We deserve all the best to provide the best services. TeamWORK works!”

Rehana Qayyumi and Donna Cashara Rehana Qayyumi and Donna Cashara

Cashara said it was tough to get a room at an affordable rate that night at the downtown hotels, but the Marriott finally came through. She said many other seasoned lab staff know when storms are coming, they need to look out for each other. She and another staff person led a department-wide effort to make sure the hospital had enough lab staff and that those employees had either safe passage home or a place to sleep. The hospital provides dorm-like accommodations, but some staff prefer to split the cost of a nearby hotel room.

From Cassandra Bembry, MLS ASCP, outreach customer service supervisor for the Clinical Pathology Laboratory:

Jamillah Johnson, my front-end coordinator of the Clinical Pathology Laboratory (a.k.a. “Accessioning”) volunteered late Sunday night to pick up more than 80 percent of our day-shift staff for Monday who rely solely on public transportation.  She also took these employees home and picked up our evening shift crew.  Jamillah has consistently shown a great deal of care and concern for our staff that is unparalleled, in my opinion, and acts of this nature are routine for her.” 

 From J.V. Nable, MD, NREMT-P, clinical instructor and chief resident in the Department of  Emergency Medicine:

“The [physicians in the] UniversityofMaryland Emergency Medicine Residency met the challenges posed by Hurricane Sandy head-on. Despite the incredibly inclement weather, residents continued to provide vital services at emergency departments and other hospital units throughout the region, including: UMMC, the Shock Trauma Center, the Baltimore VA Medical Center, Mercy Medical Center, Bayview Medical Center, and Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC. Because some residents have lengthy commutes, those who live near the medical facilities invited them to their homes for dry and safe shelter during the storm. Many residents volunteered to rearrange their schedules, taking extra shifts to cover for those stranded by the storm. As part of the backbone of clinical services at UMMC, emergency medicine residents demonstrated unwavering dedication throughout this unprecedented event.”

From Shawn Hendricks, MSN, RN, nurse manager for 10 East (Acute Medicine Telemetry Unit) and 11 East (Medicine Telemetry Unit):
 
During Hurricane Sandy, the dedicated staff on 10 & 11 East showed up ready to work, with smiles and a determination to provide excellent care despite the weather outside. I gave personal thanks to patient care technicians Theresa Hicks and Danielle Brown for coming to assist with the patients on 11 East after completing their care on 10 East, until help arrived from Monique Thomas, a student nurse who had been off duty but came in to help. And, also, to Jocelyn Campbell, one of our unit secretaries, who came in even when she wasn’t scheduled, to help with secretarial duties and other tasks on 11 East. Finally, a big “Thank you” to all my staff who stayed late or came early to ensure the shifts were covered! These staff members showed loyalty, teamwork, and caring when it was needed the most!

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