By Mike Lauf, president and CEO of Cape Cod Healthcare
Nurses Week 2021 (May 6-12) comes after perhaps the most challenging and stressful year the industry has seen during this century. The COVID-19 pandemic called upon us all to rise to new levels of personal and professional commitment, and our nurses – and our entire clinical staff – admirably answered the call.
Our nursing staff – RNs, LPNs, CNAs – were under incredible strain this past year as they struggled with life and death issues in ways they had never before experienced. When we were forced to close our hospitals to visitors due to the extreme risk of contagion, they were often the only connection a family had to their loved one in the hospital.
Over and over again, I have heard stories of how thankful people were to the nursing staff at the hospital for their care and compassion. Nurses relayed updates on their loved one’s condition, especially when patients were so sick they were unable to talk on the phone. They held iPads, so people could see and talk to their family member, held phones to their ears, and shared anecdotes about their days, so families could feel just a bit closer to their loved ones.
During the direst days of the pandemic, our nurses (and the rest of the staff) worked tirelessly to care for the influx of patients with a high degree of acuity. What was so impressive to me was the support they gave each other during this time. In many cases, they were experiencing something only another nurse could understand.
And the care our nurses gave to the community over the past year did not stop at our hospitals’, clinics’ and offices’ four walls. They stepped up to staff COVID testing clinics and vaccination clinics, making sure people were getting care as soon as possible, and that our community became the highest vaccinated area in the state. On a daily basis, nurses demonstrated commitment and concern for our community, and I am extremely grateful to everyone who took part in these endeavors.
And now we look ahead to the next year with optimism and certainty that it will be better. Overall, we have a strong plan in place to ensure that our healthcare system meets the needs of our patients, community, physicians and staff going forward. We are committed to building the new patient care tower at Cape Cod Hospital and expanding outpatient clinical specialties at both Cape Cod and Falmouth Hospitals. With the new Epic system, we will look for more ways we can leverage technology to improve and expand care.
The past year brought many changes and taught us many things. It changed the way we provided care in many ways – some of them permanently – and called upon us to think outside the box. As we move away from this latest COVID-19 surge and continue to vaccinate as many residents as possible, we can set our sights on a brighter future. The facts is, Cape Cod Healthcare is emerging from the pandemic in a strong position because of CCHC’s collective spirit. Thank you for your very important role in all we did and will do.
I am extremely grateful to our nurses – and our entire staff – for your commitment to our patients and this organization, and know we are destined to continue to do great things together in our hospitals, clinics, offices and community.