Walking into the unknown: An important perspective from a Tampa General clinical leader

© Copyright ASC COMMUNICATIONS 2020. Interested in LINKING to or REPRINTING this material? View our policies by click on this link.

John Couris is president and CEO of Tampa General Hospital. Candace Amato is the Director of the Medicine Division at Tampa General.

I also knew that some of my team members had immune-compromised household members. I felt the weight of caring for my team– sending them into the unknown was a scary feeling at.

And after that March rolled in. Thats when whatever changed, and things got “genuine” really quickly. I had prepared to take my son, a high school trainee and history buff, to New Orleans to see the WW2 museum for spring break. Unexpectedly, he and I both knew that we would not be hitting the Big Easy. COVID-19 was at our doorstep.

In my last column, I showed you my reflections on my professional and personal experience up until now during the COVID-19 pandemic. I am surrounded by a team of incredible people that are open to sharing their experiences.

I have actually been a nurse at TGH for 23 years. I came here in 1998 as a travel nurse, and TGH has actually given me a fantastic profession and become my extended household. I knew I could rely on my associates. I knew in excellent times and in bad, we were there for each other. Those early COVID-19 days would remind me of that in spades.

While the last 7 months have been incredibly tough, I have found out a lot. I honestly believe that COVID-19 was on-the-job training like no other. I got more experience and training from this than I might have more than a years. I established a brand-new level of gratitude for these groups and the entire division..

And while worry was always in the back of my mind, everybodys worry was immediately directed into looking after patients. How might we keep everyone safe while supplying the very best care we perhaps might– that became our continuous focus– and this needed constant innovation and out-of-the-box thinking..

Two things stand out in Candaces exceptional story and point of view, in my opinion. One is her wealth of compassion and vulnerability. She has the ability to reveal her sense of worry and, at the same time, lead with great ability and decision. The second is her and her groups capability to improvise tactically. They have dealt with every barrier, developing workarounds or options. They have actually let nothing stop them from offering the best possible care..

Several systems within the medical facility and my division were impacted. We moved whole groups and brought in crisis staff to help with the surge. The ICU and Complex Medicine units worked tough and stayed flexible as we navigated this rapidly developing crisis.

Candace Amato is a career-long nurse and director of medicine for the Tampa General Hospital system that has taken care of most of our COVID-19 clients. I am exceptionally happy with Candace, her team and our whole TGH household. In the scariest of times, they have increased to satisfy every challenge, stayed favorable and, most notably, were there for our patients and each other. I am surprised every day by both their compassion and grit, and Im so grateful for them.

Looking back, it is a testimony to the strength and determination of this organization. Everybody came together and circled around the wagons to battle this crisis. In the end, I recognized that if I must walk into the unknown once again, these are the people I want by my side.

We spent the next 2 months talking about prospective circumstances and getting ready in case the infection made its method to our neighborhood. I knew, should TGH get “hit,” it would considerably impact my client population.

Candace Amato is a career-long nurse and director of medication for the Tampa General Hospital unit that has cared for most of our COVID-19 patients. One of our very first teams to take on the COVID-19 care difficulty was our complex medication units. On March 26th, we turned our 18-bed MICU into an unfavorable pressure COVID-19 system overnight, doing our finest to safeguard the team and the clients. Seven months later on, our MICU system continues to provide first-rate care to our COVID-19 clients.

With severe adoration, here is Candaces reflection on COVID-19.

As cases continued to mount, we rapidly outgrew the negative pressure spaces we had on these units, and the patients became much sicker. On March 26th, we turned our 18-bed MICU into a negative pressure COVID-19 system overnight, doing our finest to protect the team and the clients. 7 months later, our MICU system continues to supply world-class care to our COVID-19 clients.

John Couris and Candace Amato –
Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020

For example, when we recognized it was hard to hear each other, somebody jumped up and went right away and bought walkie-talkies. And when we realized the IV tubing was not long enough to reach throughout the room and outside the door, a group member protected longer tubing to dispense meds from the hallway. There were lots of small, collaborative things like this that made a remarkable distinction..

Slowly, clients began to trickle in. Specific units were challenged with the care of these patients. One of our very first groups to take on the COVID-19 care challenge was our complex medicine systems.

I had been in my current director position for less than a year when we began dealing with COVID-19 clients. While I had managed the MICU for years, and I understood the new supervisor and had a deep connection with the team, being the individual accountable for all these groups took things to a various level.

I was mentally ready– at least I believed I was. As a nurse with more than 2 years of experience and a current promotion to Director of the Medical Division at Tampa General Hospital, I had seen practically everything you could think of– the sickest possible clients, impressive healings and terrible losses. I had looked after or run circumstances for all kinds of medical disasters and emergency situations– cyclones, mass casualty, swine influenza (H1N1), Ebola– all of it..

While I had handled the MICU for years, and I understood the new supervisor and had a deep connection with the team, being the person responsible for all these teams took things to a various level.