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School of Nursing Faculty and Students Assist in Community Response to COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, it has had a different type of impact on faculty and students within Cleveland State University’s School of Nursing. Assistant Clinical Professor Mary Hasenstaub, APRN, DNP and Ph.D. student Raquel Rodriguez have found themselves having to balance being a professor or student with service as a front-line health care worker in hospitals and clinics in the area.

Dr. Hasenstaub is a Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner working in a federally qualified health center. Before the pandemic, she saw between 15-20 patients a day who were experiencing both acute and chronic medical conditions like diabetes or heart disease, along with handling pediatrics and the facility’s Immigration Immunization Clinic. With the development of COVID-19, her workplace quickly converted patients to telehealth to limit incoming traffic while in-person appointments have been more spread out to limit the amount of contact with other patients.

“We have been strictly following both CDC and Board of Health guidelines,” said 
Dr. Hasenstaub. “We have made the decision to order a respiratory panel to test patients for potential COVID-19 infection to not overload the rest of the system. If results appear negative, then we recommend further testing and provide follow-ups throughout the process.”

Dr. Hasenstaub noted that this pandemic needs to be taken seriously considering the amount of unknown aspects of the disease and that many don’t understand the science behind the virus. As an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, she has learned that it is important to continue moving forward and to take actions based on the best possible information available, while doing everything one can to keep themselves and their patients safe. As a professor, Dr. Hasenstaub explained how important it is to assist individuals that are underserved or are health illiterate in better understanding what is happening and what they can do to contribute to community health. 

“Take the opportunity to donate or reach out to those who need help,” she added. “You don’t have to do a lot. We can all do something small to help each other.”

Like Dr. Hasenstaub, Raquel Rodriguez has been working on the frontlines in a local ICU where she attends to COVID-19 patients. She graduated from CSU with a bachelor’s in nursing in 2005 and a master’s in nursing education in 2008. In addition to her doctoral studies and work as a nurse, Ms. Rodriguez serves as a clinical experience coordinator for the School of Nursing, where she assists with clinical placements and processes for undergraduate students and clinical instructors.

Before COVID-19, Ms. Rodriguez was a staff nurse in a cardiovascular surgery unit in which she took care of surgical and intensive care patients. Now, her unit is for patients who are suspected to be positive for COVID-19 or for those who have already tested positive.

“Before the pandemic, we could check in on our patients when they needed us, and spend as much time with them as they needed to talk about their status and situation,” Ms. Rodriguez shared. “Now, we have to communicate as much as we can to the patients in a limited amount of time and tell them we will not be able to return to their room unless it fits into the specific time frame allowed.”

Ms. Rodriguez explained that though the time with patients has been reduced, they can still check their vital signs from outside the room and make sure that there haven’t been significant changes to their health since the last visit. The patients and nurses can also communicate via a call bell, and if the patient needs anything, a list is made to be brought to the room at the next assigned time.

“Nothing is textbook, we are going by the moment,” said Ms. Rodriguez. “Everything we have been taught has changed, we are just learning as we go.”