May 06, 2021 9:00 AM

Read time: 3 minutes

Author: Lawrence Marsco, RN, MSN, OCN, Senior Director of Nursing and Clinical Operations


lawrence marsco, RN, MSN, OCN
Lawrence Marsco, RN, MSN, OCN, Senior Director of Nursing and Clinical Operations

The year 2020 was designated as the international Year of the Nurse in celebration of Florence Nightingale’s 200th birthday. And what a year it was for nursing on the local, national, and world stage. We are always grateful for the role nursing plays in the care of our oncology patients, their families, the community, and each other. Our 500-plus nurses at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) have shined during an unprecedented time that included a pandemic, social unrest and injustice, and emergency responses during an earthquake and hurricane-force winds.

With compassion, resilience, and grit, our nursing workforce faced COVID-19 head on, implementing multiple changes and updates of guidelines to keep our patients and staff safe. We supported each other through the emotional impacts we faced from visitor policy changes—all the while caring for our patients and their families. We learned how to care for patients remotely and connect them with their families through electronic platforms and devices. When we learned we could care for COVID patients safely, our nurses contributed their professional expertise caring for COVID patients at the bedside at University Hospital. We also deployed our outpatient staff to testing sites. We worked with our colleagues to retrofit nine inpatient beds to make a respiratory isolation flex intensive care unit.

group of nurses standing by nurses week banner

And, we forged ahead with the critical work of the Compassionate Workplace Committee, with the intent to provide an environment for all staff members that promotes joy in work, fosters resiliency and personal growth and development while respecting their individual uniqueness, and celebrates the impact they make in the lives of those we serve. After the social unrest and the magnification of health disparities due to COVID-19 in the year 2020, we are shining a light on the importance of equity, diversity, and inclusion to tackle systemic racism and create a safe work environment.

Despite all of these challenges, our nurses continue to provide the highest quality compassionate care to our cancer patients and their families. Although COVID-19 continues to impact us at work, at home, and in our communities in the year 2021, our nurses continue to persevere. And it truly takes a village. Nursing could not provide compassionate care without our partners: health care and medical assistants, environmental services, dietary services, social workers, chaplains, infection prevention and control, physicians, advanced practitioners, pharmacy, respiratory care, IT, therapy services, security, facilities and biomed, researchers, radiology, labs, the Wellness and Integrative Health Center, transport, customer service, administrative support, finance, financial services, and more.

HCI nurses truly put our patients and community first; are united in their efforts for all patients, their families, and each other; and are excellent in everything they do.

It gives me great pride to say that since the inception of the 1999 Gallup poll, nursing has been the number one trusted, most ethical and honest profession every year with the exception of September 11, 2001, where firefighters were ranked number one. HCI nurses exemplify the qualities named in this poll. It is an honor and a humbling experience to help lead the HCI nursing team.

nursing cancer care covid-19 coronavirus community report

Cancer touches all of us.

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