VNSNY Home Care nurse Magan N. spends a lot of time helping her older patients and their family caregivers understand what they need to do in order to stay healthy and safe in their homes. During the COVID-19 crisis, that guidance has become more important than ever.
“Education is one of the most critical things I do with my patients,” says Magan. “So I make sure to listen carefully and take my time. It’s not always easy for them to grasp why or how a doctor changes medications, for example, so I work to make sure they understand why it’s happening.”
One of Magan’s patients, 94-year-old Anne F., had recently been hospitalized with shortness of breath. It turned out to be related to congestive heart failure and not COVID-19, but Magan wanted to keep things upbeat. During a follow-up visit, Magan noticed that Anne was struggling to read some of her instructions. “No problem,” Magan said, and wrote out new instructions in large print along with a light-hearted reminder that “I go to work, so you can stay home.” Everyone had a good chuckle as Anne’s son-in-law took a photo of Magan with his wife and her mother to mark the occasion.
“Having one-on-one time with patients is something I really love about being a home care nurse,” adds Magan. “Gaining this trust opens the door for teaching them what they really need to know, which is as meaningful to me as it is to the patients I care for.”
While many in the health care field are thinking about COVID-19 around the clock, Magan says that it’s not necessarily a hot topic with her patients. “They’ve heard about it, of course, but if they’ve been in the hospital or aren’t feeling well, they may not be following the news every minute. So I try to help them understand that following their doctor’s instructions and taking precautions to stay safe are very important, without causing them or their families extra stress and worry.”
Each visit offers an opportunity for teaching moments, notes Magan. She follows standard hand hygiene as well as COVID-19 safety protocols during every visit. However, she now gets a verbal acknowledgment from patients when recording the visit on her tablet, instead of having them sign with their finger or a stylus. This is both as an extra precaution, and to reinforce safety practices. “I’m demonstrating ways that all of us need to be mindful during this health crisis, while trying not to alarm anyone unnecessarily.”
Magan has been a nurse with VNSNY since 2003. She loves what she does, but it’s the teamwork of her VNSNY co-workers that she counts on most during intense challenges like the COVID-19 crisis. “All of us working in home care at VNSNY are heroes,” she says. “From the top down, we have great communication, and that’s what makes it all work. We really are in this together. I work Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, but this connection is something that touches me every single day.”