Northwest Organization of Nurse Leaders News

Leaders in Action November 2020 - 10 min read

NWONL Nov 2020 Leader Highlight

Did you know all major languages of the world have a word for “crisis”?

More interestingly, all the roots of the word “crisis” across languages are effectively the same… the word is an amalgamation born from other terms or conditions defining calamity and it (calamity) being met by decisiveness and the subsequent opportunity or loss therein. They key points are the commonality of “calamity and opportunity” in these roots. That is no mistake, it’s the essence of crisis. Yet it’s odd is it not? Given their obvious disparity it’s hard to imagine we can hold both in one hand, let alone fine value in them. Yet proof abounds that its true. NWONL has asked Susan Stacey, past NWONL President and CNO Sacred Heart Medical Center to share what crisis has meant to her, personally, this year:
From Susan -
Crisis often brings out the best in people.  It reminds us, profoundly so, why it is important to celebrate every day and share our love with family, neighbors, and friends. It is crisis that reminds us how lucky we to even be alive and are and how vital it is to take care of ourselves, our communities, and our planet.  Looking back on these many months of dealing with COVID, and the pandemic response at large plus all it has piled upon us personally and professionally, we speak much about what has been challenging and frustrating. In the spirit of the Holidays and renewal, I sat myself down, and documented ten “gifts” the COVID crisis has (directly and indirectly) presented me, for which I am thankful.”

Thankful for the “Gifts” in a Pandemic

Less Hierarch and Formality, it really does work!

“I am blessed, and humbled, to work with amazing nurses who are ready to innovate.  Early on it was evident that titles and org chart positions were less important than specific expertise and willingness to try new things.  We had nurses who were infection prevention experts advising physicians, administrators and our government. Our front-line nurses demonstrated amazing innovation when we let them create the best practices. My job was generally to get out of the way and let it happen.”

It’s Impossible to be perfect, thankfully we can learn and improve.

“You may not agree with me, but I am grateful for strong Government Leaders regardless of politics, we are blessed to live in states where both of our governors led with courage, evidence-based information and with a vision towards stalling the spread of this disease.  They tried to balance business recovery with keeping people safe amidst significant criticism.  They deserve our thanks – even if you personally disagreed with decisions – there is no “perfect” solution and they showed the courage to make decisions knowing they would be disparaged by someone somewhere. That is one of the heaviest burdens of leadership.”

Ok, there are actually some welcome and unexpected benefits!

“I am grateful for morning (and sometimes afternoon) walks. One of the best things about working from home many days is the opportunity to exercise during the day – sometimes while calling into a meeting.  This has kept me centered, focused, and sane.  In fact, I went out this morning when it was 30 degrees, because I wanted to get some exercise.  I have always been the person who swore I would always have a chocolate habit – but never an exercise habit – Thank you COVID! (Well, I’d still don’t like you and want you gone, permanently, but alas you did motivate me).”

Caregiving knows no boundaries. Nurses lead the way.

“I am grateful for those who give back to those who have worked so hard.  One of my favorite days during this crisis when my team sent a care packages to another hospital who was in the middle of the surge. Nurses who work on our COVID units packed large boxes with cookies, candies, pictures (wearing full PPE) and notes of well wishes and sent it to another COVID units at a different hospital in our state.  My team was already slammed yet they found energy to uplift another team who was in the trenches with them and share this connection. Wow, talk about leadership and setting the example.”

Every generation provides distinct value.

“I am grateful for youth –Thank goodness for our technologically savvy younger team members who quickly educated us all on how to interact through telemedicine, online meeting platforms and virtual interactive programs. Many of us learned quickly how to interact in a virtual world – and much of that world is here to stay. There is no debate, vibrant and adaptive teams are diverse teams, no question.”

When you’ve seen a lot, you have a lot to offer beyond the technical…

“I am grateful for us “more seasoned” healthcare workers. In a world of evidence-based practice, having an infectious disease that was not well understood was frightening to clinicians who were accustomed to reliance on research to guide their actions. Clinicians who were older were far more comfortable providing care in this gray zone of the unknown without formal studies to support. They are able to practice the “art” of healthcare when a blank canvas is presented to them… Thank goodness this group of pioneers were willing to try new things – and return to old modalities (like proning).”

One-click and at home delivery… Is that a bad thing?

“I am grateful for on-line shopping. It seems trivial but imagine dealing with this pandemic in a world where you didn’t have an internet to order food, clothes, gifts, and many things I certainly didn’t need – but wanted. It is what has kept us sane and distracted on many days.  I’m not saying I want small businesses to fold and go 100% online, oh heavens no… I’m just saying I’d not make it without some smooth tech and logistics keeping me reinforced.”

It’s not hope, it’s a matter of persistence and patience.

“I am grateful that there is an end (or at least a reprieve) on the horizon. A vaccine(s) is on the way!  However, the continued work ahead of us is to normalize our learnings and find the path to move from crisis management to care management – from incident command to recovery – and from abnormal to the new normal (at least for now). COVID-19 is not an aberrancy – it is our reality and we need to respond in a more matter-of-fact manner.”

I’m again remind that Life gets to choose freely and randomly how it will act.

“I have been fortunate and I am humbled. I have a job, a home, and good health. In a time where so many have lost their jobs, businesses, and their livelihoods over the last year, I am blessed to have a job I love (even if I complain about it occasionally).  As I think about the fires that plagued so many this summer, I have a home that is stable.  And good health is something no one takes for granted.” 

I’m not sure I could do this alone… 

“I am profoundly thankful for friends and family. Whether virtual or in person (depending on what phase we found ourselves in), I was again, beyond fortunate to have friends who felt like family, and family who felt like friends.”

So - - What are you grateful for? 

“My call to action in closing out 2020 for my fellow leaders is reflection and positioning. I’m one to systematically evaluate what is not working well but I find even more value in focusing on amplifying what is working well instead. What will we take forward into 2021 and most importantly, the years beyond? Take a moment to pause and reflect on the past year – and let’s all learn important lessons together. We have so much for which to be thankful.”
Thank you Susan, we need more of your energy and affirmation!  There is a tone of “calamity bringing opportunity” in the roots of your gifts. Profound yet simple. We truly appreciate your framing and humble call to action.