Throughout the GuideWell enterprise, there are many nurses in many different roles. National Nurses Week, which begins each year on May 6 and ends on May 12 - the birthday of nursing founder Florence Nightingale- is an exciting opportunity for our company to recognize the significant contributions of nurses in our organization. Recently, we caught up with a few nurses to hear more about how nursing has had an impact on their lives, especially during COVID-19.
Kirsten Baker, RN, BSN, MBA, CHC | Florida Blue Center
Kirsten has been a nurse for 12 years. She works at one of our Florida Blue Centers where she provides health assessments, health coaching and health education. But nursing isn’t how Baker began her professional career. She earned her master’s degree in international marketing and spent several years working in product management for a toy company. She also worked in public service. Eventually, she decided to change directions.
“I wanted to help people. I wanted a caring career,” she said.
Baker went back to school to become a nurse. She says she’s grateful that she gets to wake up everyday and “fulfil that calling.”
“Helping people manage their own health, maybe a chronic condition or perhaps in weight loss or quitting smoking and to be able to educate somebody to do that and to help themselves is so rewarding and makes me so happy.”
Going above and beyond is not something Baker just does at work. Recently, she and her family “adopted” a family that was struggling to put food on the table. Each week they provide food and basic necessities to help this family get through this tough economic time.
“I know that we can’t help everyone, but we can help someone,” she said. “We do what we can, when we can.”
COVID-19 has changed her life at home. It has also changed her job.
Throughout the pandemic, all Florida Blue Centers have transitioned to virtual support and services. Our locally based neighborhood nurses, community specialists and service specialists remain committed to providing personalized support to our members via phone such as helping with questions about COVID-19, testing site locations, community resources, navigating the health care system, finding virtual care options, checking enrollment eligibility and other concerns.
Baker says she’s grateful she can continue to provide health education and coaching---even over the phone.
Angela Juncosa, RN | Sanitas Medical Center
Angela, a care educator nurse at Sanitas Medical Center, has also become accustomed to providing virtual care and education.
Sanitas Medical Centers, which exclusively serves Florida Blue members in South Florida, Central Florida and Tampa Bay, is offering free bilingual virtual care to its current patients via its mySanitas Chat website and mobile app. <p>
“It’s important for patients to have that continuity in their care,” she said. “Even though it’s a difficult time, we’re still here for them and we’re still able to help them in all areas they need.”At Sanitas, providers are multilingual and can provide care and education in the language patients feel most comfortable using, which is even more important as people navigate a virus that is new to everyone. “It’s great to be able to connect with a patient in their native language, she said. “It helps them feel more comfortable. It helps them feel welcome. To know that there’s someone that can relate to them and understand them entirely, it helps to build that connection and makes them feel more comfortable in their visit.”
Tracy Gawron, RN | PopHealthCare
Tracy says making patients feel comfortable is also a priority at PopHealthCare. She’s a Registered Nurse and works as part of a team with a clinical service manager, a nurse practitioner and a medical director to support patients, families and caregivers. Before COVID-19, Gawron provided care and support in members’ homes and over the phone. Now, all of her visits are “care calls” or telephone check-in calls.
“This is really important right now,” said Gawron. “A lot of our patients are elderly and alone and they look forward to those phone calls to have a familiar face and voice to talk to.” Feelings of loneliness and social isolation have been exacerbated because of social distancing and stay-at-home orders. Checking in on patients has been one way Gawron has been able to make an impact.
“I love helping people. I love making a difference in peoples’ lives that otherwise wouldn’t have someone there to support them,” she said.
Gawron also serves as a source of strength.
“I have had a lot of patients that are scared and have a lot of anxiety,” she said. “We’ve been that calm presence in their life.”
Emotional support from a nurse goes a long way for patients and family members, especially during uncertain times. Around the country, people are thanking health care workers for everything they do.
“We don’t expect it. We never do,” said Gawron. “Just the joy of seeing patients thrive and grow and be happy is our recognition enough.”
But for our clinical staff throughout GuideWell, it is nice for them to receive a “thank you.”
“People are noticing everything that we do and noticing what a big role that we play in the medical field and patient care setting and that is wonderful,” said Juncosa.
Bethany Carlson, RN | GuideWell Emergency Doctors
Bethany, the nurse manager at the GuideWell Emergency Doctors in Winter Park, says feeling valued means a lot.
“I don’t think nursing has ever felt more appreciated than we do right now.”
While GuideWell Emergency Doctors is providing virtual visits via phone and video, they’re also keeping their doors open and safely providing care in the clinical setting. Carlson says being a nurse during a health pandemic can be scary—even for health care workers--but she says she wouldn’t trade her role as a nurse for anything else.
“People come in here and it’s not their best day,” she said. “It’s just satisfying when we’re able to help people physically, and also to calm their nerves and help them mentally feel better.”