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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Current students and graduates in healthcare combat COVID-19 pandemic

A medical worker at a drive-thru testing facility run by Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on March 17. PHOTO: LUKE MALANGA ’20/THE HAWK

Brooke Goulden ’18, a registered nurse at Yale New Haven Hospital in Connecticut, has been a nurse for less than a year and is now working directly with COVID-19 positive patients to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Goulden majored in interdisciplinary health services (IHS) while studying at St. Joe’s and completed a 14-month accelerated nursing program at Villanova University after graduation. Following orientation and working with a preceptor, she began working on her own in January and is now adjusting to working as a nurse during the pandemic. 

Previously, the floor Goulden worked on was a designated observation floor—patients would come out of the emergency room and spend about a day or two before being discharged from the hospital. Now, the floor is strictly for patients with COVID-19, and the number of patients per nurse is increasing. 

“I usually only had three or four patients,” Goulden said. “I actually just found out yesterday when I was at work that because we’re having so many more patients come in testing positive, we are now going up to five patients per nurse.” 

Goulden in her personal protective equipment (PPE) in Yale New Haven Hospital. PHOTO COURTESY OF BROOKE GOULDEN ’18

According to the Connecticut Post, “Av Harris, a spokesman for the state Department of Public Health, said Connecticut is facing an overall shortage of equipment for health workers,” and the Yale New Haven Health System is trying to adapt to the shortages. 

The hospital has begun two emergency funds that will go towards providing personal protection equipment (PPE) to the caregivers within the hospital, according to the Yale New Haven Hospital website. The hospital is also accepting donations for supplies, with N95 masks being third on the list of materials that are needed.

Goulden has worn her same N95 mask for about three weeks now.

“It’s the one that I’ve used since the very first shift that I’ve had on my floor as a COVID floor,” Goulden said. “When we first started, we had everything so I got my extra small, and it fit really good. You’re supposed to get a new one every shift, but we haven’t had the size that I need.”

Goulden said her work within the hospital has affected her life outside of Yale New Haven. Goulden lives with her mother and her sister in Connecticut, and she worries that she will bring the virus home with her. After her routine of sanitizing and cleaning, she usually goes to her room and avoids contact with her family. 

“I pretty much just run straight up to my room.” Goulden said. “I stay either there or in my basement for the majority of the time that I’m home, and I try not to go in the kitchen, touch anything or go in the parts of my house where my mom and my sister spend most of their time.” 

Sabrina Grandrimo ’20, a pharmaceutical marketing major, currently works as a healthcare recruiter for General Healthcare Resources in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania. Grandrimo works in the permanent placement division of the company to place healthcare professionals in jobs around the area. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the job market for healthcare professionals. 

“Permanent placement is no longer a priority because people aren’t looking to switch jobs and stay in them for longevity,” Grandrimo said. “They’re looking to help right now.” 

However, Grandrimo said it can sometimes be difficult to place nurses in these jobs because of the demanding circumstances of the pandemic. Grandrimo said she has spoken to nurses who aren’t able to work due to family or financial circumstances, health concerns or lack of prior experience. 

“A lot of skill sets aren’t transferable even though flexibility for hiring is a little bit easier,” Grandrimo said. 

Grandrimo said she still works with her clients’ best interest in mind, and her education at St. Joe’s has encouraged her to take an extra step to help nurses adjust to the changes in the healthcare field. 

“I’m at a company where I can do this type of work for the good of the people and truly like to keep it very honest and transparent,” Grandrimo said. 

Julia Cautela ’18 majored in IHS at St. Joe’s, completed the nursing program at Drexel University and is now a registered nurse at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). Cautela began working as a registered nurse in January and has been training in the field as well as adapting to the pandemic. 

“It’s definitely a really interesting time to be a nurse in the healthcare field because there’s a lot of uncertainty,” Cautela said. “Our managers have been saying we’re well prepared, but the truth of the matter is every day is different. It’s just been an adjustment.”

Cautela said her education at St. Joe’s has contributed to the work she does now, and it has encouraged her to be empathetic with those around her both inside and outside of the hospital. 

“People are scared and right now, more than ever, it’s really important to be patient with people and understand that everybody’s coming from different places in life,” Cautela said.

Goulden also said her education at St. Joe’s has impacted her work and has helped her to be appreciative even during a stressful time. 

“I’m still really grateful to have a job and to be able to slowly help people even though it is a really high risk for myself and my family,” Goulden said. “I’m doing the best I can with keeping myself safe and keeping my family safe.”

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