Wiregrass Hospital navigates through COVID pandemic without travel nurses

Wiregrass Hospital navigates through COVID pandemic without travel nurses

DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) – This month marks two years since Alabama detected its first case of COVID-19. Many hospitals across the state scrambled to care for the sick and enlisted the help of traveling healthcare workers.

However, one hospital in Wiregrass is one of the few that has not, and that is Mizell Memorial Hospital.

“You are a puzzle, and like a puzzle, if one of the pieces is missing, it doesn’t work,” said Stacy Nawlin, RN/ICU. “Everyone has to do their part to make it work, and we’re doing that here. We lean on each other. »

Since the pandemic began, Alabama’s health systems have been the frontline combatants against COVID-19. Their employees were working overtime, day in and day out, and in some facilities that was still not enough. They needed the help of traveling nurses, but not Mizell.

“We’ve had times when we’re more stressed than other times because of staffing issues, but we’re pulling ourselves together,” said Lisa Arnett, RN. “We have excellent management who will come and pick up patients and help us with our medical emergency unit.”

Of Mizell’s 250 full-time employees, 70 are nurses.

“They’re here to take care of the patients, and they need to have someone to take care of them when it comes to staffing,” said Mitchell Myers, clinical director.

All employees have come together to take care of their community.

“We take care of each other,” said Amanda Harrelson, RN. “We’re a family, and we support each other, and we just work through it.

Arnett said working in a rural hospital came with challenges on its own, and the pandemic has brought more challenges to the forefront, but they leaned on each other and overcame those challenges together.

“Being at Mizell is like my second home, my colleagues are my family,” Arnett said.

Mizell has stuck together, especially during the darkest times of this pandemic.

“Every patient we’ve laid in this bed is someone’s loved one, and even our own loved ones we’ve had to care for,” Arnett said. “I just see them struggle day in and day out, and in their final moments, we’re the ones in the room with them, we’re the ones holding their hand and watching them take their last breath. That’s the most hardest thing I’ve ever been through.”

When patient safety meant limiting visitors, the hospital used hometown staff to provide hometown compassion.

“It’s very emotional for the patient and the caregiver, whether it’s the nurse or a family member,” Nawlin said. “It’s very moving, dying is difficult either way. Whether you’re at home or in a hospital setting. Care in intensive care is difficult and difficult, not only during the pandemic, but also through other diseases.

The team worked towards unity, taking on multiple roles at once when needed, and generally leaned on each other for support.

“Our doctors actually came into the rooms and helped us move patients, and you don’t see that in big hospitals, so we’re huddled together,” Arnett said.

Nawlin said good is what keeps her going.

“I love what I do, and I think if you love what you do and you’re in it for the long haul, then you take the bad with the good and keep going,” Nawlin said.

As the hard work continues, recognition is given.

“They stayed home and provided care to their citizens and community where many people chose to go and do some of the travel missions, and for us to be able to provide hometown compassion with the nurses and hometown health heroes has been nothing short of phenomenal,” Myers said.

Like other hospitals in the state, Mizell’s number of COVID inpatients has declined. But, at the same time, several people remained without seeking appropriate care for fear of going to hospitals at the height of the pandemic. This now puts the facility at a high volume of patients.

The hospital tells News 4 that no one will be turned away and encourages people to seek necessary care.

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