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Elizabeth Even

Elizabeth Even, MSN, RN, CEN

Emergency Department Nurse, Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Associate Director, Standards Interpretation, The Joint Commission


Working in the emergency department at one of the largest hospitals in Chicago gives Elizabeth a unique perspective on treating those patients infected with COVID-19. She shares some of those experiences and what she and her co-workers have learned.


Coming together with one goal

“This is a learning opportunity and a learn as you go experience for everyone. There are a lot of staff in the ER, both permanent as well as rotating staff so inherently there are many ways of doing things. This experience has really forced us to all come together and decide on a unified practice, such as the clinical pathway for respiratory distress in COVID patients. We all have to be on the same page in terms of what is going to happen and when, and that’s something I think we will carry forward even after this which will be beneficial for us. Another example of a new process we utilized was sending out summary emails at times, multiple times a week to inform everyone of what may be rapidly changing information to ensure we are all up to date, on the same page and informed of any important process changes for the department or the hospital. Also, we all know there are a lot of nuances in the clinical care of this virus, so no idea or story is too small to share with departmental leadership. If we feel like a current practice can be changed based on something we’ve seen, they want us to share that.”

“I feel my organization has been great in supporting its caregivers. For example, we now get hospital laundered scrubs so you don't have to bring your dirty scrubs home to your own washing machine and family which is amazing. They are also screening each staff member when they arrive to work each day by asking screening questions, taking a temperature and ensuring we have a mask to keep on at all times. We know that you can be asymptomatic, but it is comforting to know that everything that can be done to keep us safe is happening.”

“We all kind of feel like we're in the eye of the hurricane. Everyone keeps saying that Chicago is going to peak this date, and then it's pushed back a week, so we’re still sitting at the edge of our seats wondering if and when that's going to happen. And then, once things are open again, we're all very hesitant to see what happens in terms of virus transmission. What I personally fear is that our second wave, in a major city, might be worse than our first one was because there are a lot of undiagnosed people that are still walking around. We're all cautiously optimistic, but also kind of nervous about what that's going to look like.”