In March, when University of Maryland Shore Regional Health suspended elective surgeries to focus on preparations for COVID-positive patients, several care teams from the three hospitals were deployed to other units and tasks where they could be of the greatest help. This was especially true for Perioperative Services, which includes Pre-anesthesia Testing, Same Day Surgery, Operating Room and the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit, as well as the Sterile Processing Department. Perioperative Services team members – who normally take care of surgical patients from their arrival to discharge – quickly began assisting on COVID inpatient units, in Emergency Departments, and other areas.
In many cases, this not only meant new duties but wider responsibility, as emergency surgeries were still taking place.
“When we started deploying Perioperative team members to our Emergency Department and inpatient units, I saw my whole team step up and really make UM Shore Regional Health proud,” says Peggy Roca, manager, Perioperative Services at UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown. “I call them our Perioperative Angels because, as the days and weeks progressed, I saw them get pulled in several different directions, shining wherever they went.”
Roca said her staff were helpful throughout the hospital, working as “nurse extenders” on inpatient units and Emergency Departments, and assisting with the care of COVID patients and patients on non-COVID units. They also performed COVID-19 testing on patients scheduled for necessary surgeries. Sterile Processing team members also assisted by taking staff temperatures upon arrival for work.
“All 32 of my Perioperative team members have been forced to step out of their comfort zone, which can be challenging for anyone,” Roca said. “But we are in the midst of COVID-19, and we don’t now have a sense of when this pandemic will end and team members can go back to their original duties. So, this has been emotionally challenging for everyone. I call them our Perioperative Services Angels because they step into any department, put on all the recommended Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and support their colleagues to get them and their patients through the day.”
Slowly but surely the angels will return to their home base, as elective surgeries become available again, but Roca said she wants the team to know how proud she is of them and how well they have served hospital patients and their families, as well as their fellow health care team members.
As part of the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), University of Maryland Shore Regional Health is the principal provider of comprehensive health care services for more than 170,000 residents of Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. UM Shore Regional Health’s team of more than 2,200 employees, medical staff, board members and volunteers works with various community partners to fulfill the organization’s mission of Creating Healthier Communities Together.
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