ICS Recognizes Staff Nurses During National Nurses Month

In recognition of National Nurses Month, Independence Care System (ICS) commends all of its nurses for their commitment, dedication and selflessness while supporting the health, well-being and independence of members during the coronavirus pandemic. 
ICS Senior Registered Nurse Melissa Gershfeld
ICS Senior Registered Nurse Melissa Gershfeld

Every May, the American Nurses Association (ANA) recognizes National Nurses Week, which is usually held from May 6 to 12.This year, that week has been extended to a month-long celebration, to “recognize the vast contributions and positive impact of America’s 4 million registered nurses,” according to the ANA.

Since March of last year with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses have been in all- hands-on-deck mode, working countless shifts, triaging sick patients and fighting on the frontlines to safeguard lives, all while experiencing stress, fatigue and grief. At ICS, staff have continued to work tirelessly to ensure members with disabilities, chronic conditions and mobility issues—individuals who are among the most vulnerable in New York—receive essential medical and home care, assessments and support.

Assisting members during the COVID-19 pandemic

Throughout the pandemic, members have continued to turn to ICS for help to avoid landing in emergency rooms or hospitals, all while facing complications with their home care aides—lifelines whose availability was impacted.

ICS Nurse Care Manager Ruby Rodriguez

In assessing members, ICS nurses have had to get creative to provide support and resources to members.Without the ability for visual assessments, nurses have had to execute outstanding verbal communication and create environments of comfort and trust to ensure the needs and concerns of members are being met.

“Not being able to observe the environment or the member makes it difficult,” said ICS Nurse Care Manager Melissa Gershfeld. ”Additional questions need to be asked to confirm or better clarify a situation that might have simply been observed before.”

ICS Nurse Care Manager Ruby Rodriguez said that she has been able to connect with and understand members by creating comfortable environments.

“Giving our members the time to express themselves and expressing acceptance of their fears during these times really helped,” Ruby said.

Telehealth supports ICS members

ICS nurses agree that a major method of supporting members during the pandemic has been the telehealth platform. While some members have not embraced the platform, those who do have benefited. The telehealth option allows members convenience and quick connection with their ICS nurses.

“There is greater access that members enjoy with their healthcare team,” Melissa said. “The disabled or home-bound-population often finds travel challenging, and this has been a valuable tool.”

ICS Nurse Care Manager Juliet Brown said that she has been able to assist many members through telehealth.  

“I am often the listening ear and the telephonic companion who has provided a much needed reprieve from the mental exhaustion and anxiety caused by the virus,” Juliet said. “With telehealth, there is less commuting for me, which means the ability to do more assessments. Many members preferred this approach. I would, however, like to see telehealth developed to provide video communication for members by providing them with camera devices used specifically for telehealth assessments.”

Supporting ICS members going forward

ICS Senior Registered Nurse Juliet Brown

ICS nurses have said that while the pandemic has brought with it great grief, tragedy and loss for members, they have worked to support their independence and needs as much as possible. Even though they’ve communicated and interacted with members differently, they feel that they have maintained their ICS level of commitment and care, and will continue to do so as the pandemic reaches its end. The goal for nurses is to continue supporting members, while also taking care of themselves in the process.

“The isolation and limited travel we all experienced during the pandemic allowed for many hours of deep thought and reflection,” said Melissa. “We all must take care of ourselves in a physical, emotional and spiritual sense to be in the best shape to take care of others.”

Juliet echoed those sentiments, and said that as the vaccination process in the United States continues to roll out, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel of a pandemic which has kept members distant from loved ones, even more limited in their mobility, and fearful of illness and death. 

“The pandemic was and is something I don’t think any of us nurses could have ever imagined we would have to deal with in our profession,” Juliet said. “But it gave us and the world the opportunity to see how invaluable we are in providing care for people who are sick. We have given it our all.”

Christopher Engelhardt

Christopher Engelhardt

Communications Specialist

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The Independent is ICS’ official newsletter, featuring the latest stories around ICS, its members and staff, as well as news on what’s happening in the disability community at large.

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