INDIANAPOLIS — They’re on the front lines, risking their health to protect yours. They work with some of the sickest COVID-19 patients in the state. Leaders with IU Health say their resource nurses have played a vital role during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Resource nurses are “float” nurses who have experience working in multiple units. They’re called on to help fill staffing gaps.
“I float to three different hospitals, Methodist, University and IU West, 20 different units,” Quenton Fair, a resource nurse for IU Health, said.
“Resource has always been noted to be that put me in coach, you know what do I need? What do you need from me? It is that whole mantra of how can I help?” said Mandy Schultz, who manages resource nurses at Methodist and University hospitals.
Schultz said this group helped create and staff the 40-bed COVID-19 ICU at Methodist Hospital.
“With that being a new unit there wasn't a team that was already hired to that unit, so resource nurses were tapped on to support the staffing of that unit,” Schultz said.
“Opening up a unit from scratch that used to be a NICU and we transformed it into a fully functioning adult ICU within hours to days, that was really cool,” Fair said.
It wasn’t always easy, Fair said.
“It was kind of an all-hands-on-deck approach at times. These patients got really sick. It was really overwhelming,” he said.
But Fair and other resource nurses were determined to be there for it all.
“Being the only one in there when their final moments were coming… and it was really it was nice to get families on FaceTime and we were able to do that and that really I guess helped in those moments, but there was a lot of times when it was just us in a room for hours with a patient,” Fair said.
“They came together in saying that no patient is going to die alone. I'm going to be in that room with them. I mean these nurses demanded that they were able to do that because, just to honor that patient and their last moments of not being by themselves,” Schultz said.
Fair said that was one of the toughest parts, but seeing some patients recover and be able to go back home to their families helped keep him going during those tough times.
“There were a lot of people that did get better… those miracle stories,” Fair said. “You want to come back because you want to see these people improve.”
They said that is the ultimate goal every day, no matter what unit they’re called to help out in.
According to data from the Indiana Department of Health, the peak in COVID-19 related hospitalizations happened November 30 with more than 3,400 patients statewide.
Hospitalizations have decreased significantly since then. As of March 3, 2021, there were 692 patients in Indiana hospitals for COVID-19 related reasons.