Solving Nursing Challenges in the Face of COVID-19 and Beyond

Johnathan Massey, CCRN

Regional Account Manager, Champion Manufacturing
 
Welcome to Champions of Care, a Champion Chair podcast and your go-to resource for industry leading insights regarding medical seating and their applications.
Hello, everyone. Welcome to Champions of Care, a Champion Chair podcast. I'm your host, Daniel Litwin, the voice of B2B. All right folks, for today's episode, we are dedicating it to the backbone of the healthcare industry and we're really speaking to what it takes to solve the care, technology, and support issues that that backbone of the industry faces.
And of course, when we're talking about the backbone of healthcare industry, we're talking about nurses. Being in the middle of a pandemic has shown just how crucial our nurses are to keeping our people healthy and why they should be supported with the right resources to do their job correctly and safely. So today we're getting a little perspective on the challenges of today's nurse with Jonathan Massey, CCRN and regional account manager for Champion Manufacturing.
Jonathan, welcome to the podcast. How are you today?
I'm great. Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure to be.
Absolutely. This is a really timely topic. Clearly we are in the middle of a global pandemic. Things are only going to get more difficult here in the United States as more people are tested, more people are brought into a care setting. Give us a little context on how this whole incredibly unique situation is impacting our nurse population today.
So one of the main issues that's currently affecting not only nurses but just a general strain on our healthcare system currently is unfortunately we have a lack of materials to... When I say materials I mean testing kits specifically for the COV-19 virus and because of the lack of appropriate materials, it's making it very hard to appropriately test, diagnose patients, and because of that issue there is potentially patients that are infected that can go under the radar and unfortunately sort of continue this pandemic cycle of infecting others.
And clearly our nurses need resources beyond just testing kits and masks and those are incredibly critical right now, but has this pandemic showcased any other resources that nurses need that maybe are lacking or not quite as available? Ones that are more useful in day to day operations?
Right. Yeah, so honestly another thing rather than tools or materials testing kits, honestly it's actual staffing, actual bodies in uniform on the floors because beings with the baby boomer generation coming to a certain age, there really is a very large need for nurses. And so that ends up being a problem currently. We actually have a shortage of appropriately trained nurses to be able to care for this patient population. Not only that, that extends further on into ancillary specialties such as respiratory care. That is something that is absolutely critical with the current virus that we're dealing with because of all the respiratory issues that it is showing to cause in patients.
But really, yeah. Having people available to work and then also those individuals who are working, having time to be able to spend the appropriate amount of time with one patient to the next, as well as trying to take a second to, as a nurse, to take a breath themselves so they can continue on their day in a healthy, functional way.
Yeah. Well this is definitely showcasing some gaps in our healthcare industry as a whole. But yeah, I just wanted to start there because I think it's incredibly timely and showcases just exactly why nurses are so critical to our day to day obviously, but also where we should be supporting them in their day to day once we get out of this pandemic.
Things that we can potentially do to sort of help nurses and help out healthcare facilities currently, and just to sort of echo what's been said by many state governors is being responsible with your quarantining and social isolation, making sure you're not just going out and about to the store or other places if you don't necessarily need something. So just really trying to maintain that social distance is going to help reduce the rate of new infections, which hopefully will reduce the workload on the healthcare system.
Definitely. All right Jonathan, let's take a step back and talk about you specifically and your journey into becoming a nurse before you found yourself at Champion. I think this is going to help give a little context for what your expertise is and also characterize some of the best parts about being a nurse and also some of the biggest challenges. So tell us a bit about yourself, your background, how you got into the healthcare field in the first place.
So I'm, I'm 37 years old. My wife and I live in Denver, Colorado. Before doing sales working for Champion, previously to that, I worked for a company that did infusion sales pharmaceuticals, but I did that while still maintaining my current nursing license, which I still keep current as well. So there was a lot of education with patients and families in that role. Previous to that role, I was a full-time a bedside nurse working primarily pre-imposed heart lung transplant, multisystem organ failure, that kind of thing.
In the clinical setting in which I was at bedside nurse, we worked a lot with different types of medical devices as it relates to heart transplant that were going through FDA trials. Essentially a pump that, for a patient whose heart is no longer functioning in a way that it can sustain life and let's say they are yet to get a transplant or another fix to it, this is a device that actually gets implanted into these patients that acts as their heart and gives them... It gives them more longevity until they are able to have a donor match for that organ transplant.
Some of the great things with doing that and as a bedside nurse for me is always honestly been just the connections that I've been able to make with families, patients, colleagues, and otherwise you really see people at their sort of most vulnerable and their weakest moments. So being able to see a little bit of sort of hope in them by you taking good care of them and listening to them and doing what's right by them and not treating them as just a number or a task that you have to check off, which as a nurse we are very task oriented because we have so many of them to do in a day, but it's really important to make sure we don't treat our patient care and interactions as a task because there's much more substance to it than that.
On the flip side to that, honestly the hardest part about being a nurse is, for me, I don't have a switch in me that I can just flip and turn the day off when I clock out at night. And so, you invest all of yourself into doing something like this. So me personally, the hardest part was just being able to try to shake it off and leave things at work and not take them home with me to where they affect me day to day.
What moved you to become a registered nurse in critical care in the first place? Was there a life motivating factor? Was it just something that interested you from your early days? What was that journey?
Yeah. I mean, so I've always been interested in the body, how it works. I've always thought it's very fascinating and I do have some folks in my family. My grandmother for example, was a nurse. And so that kind of made an impact on me. But honestly, before I became a nurse, I was an underwater welder. I worked primarily... A saturation diver and I worked primarily in the Gulf of Mexico in the oil field. And I got injured really bad while I was working on a job, and so I got permanently medically disqualified.
And when I was going through part of the treatment and whatnot for my injury, just dealing with nurses and seeing kind of the impact that they were able to make on someone like me and the situation that I was going through, I feel like that really resonated to me as being not just a career you can be proud of per se in that you're making a decent living and it's a respectable career, but really more so than that, it's what you get out of it on a non-monetary sort of sense. Like I was saying before, the connections that you make and being able to see somebody go from a horrible situation and progress.
Yeah, and I mean feeling like you have a hand in saving a life or protecting a life. That is a very soulful work. It's work that takes a lot of mental and physical energy as well. How have you found ways to balance that so that you don't get too caught up in the negatives or too caught up in the positives even, right? So that you can create longevity in that career. And I mean I know you're no longer a registered nurse, so I guess while you were a nurse, how did you find that daily antidote for some of the realities of the job?
So one of them is being able to have people to talk to about it that can actually relate to a situation like that. And that's one of the biggest challenges I found. It's has been communicated to me from many other nurses in that when you go home at the end of the day, you can explain that situation, but the individual on the [inaudible 00:11:27], unless they're in this type of profession, they really don't fully understand. So I think having a good therapeutic outlet with individuals who can contribute to that conversation and maybe add some value to help you work through it is important. But one of the main things for me is I work out. I work out, I lift weights, I play guitar. Any sort of outlet that I can do that it's going to come out in a productive way, that's usually how I always dealt with it is just kind of dumping myself into something physical or artistic or something like that.
Did you have a specialty or a department that you worked in while you were a critical care nurse? And, what were some of your favorite parts about that specialty that you leaned into, if you did have one?
Yeah, so yeah, again, it was a pre-post heart lung transplant was the unit I was working on. So I mean I loved the fact that it was go, go, go fast pace. Literally there's the 12, 13, 14 hour days would go by in a blink of an eye at times. So I liked the high intensity level. I actually did really enjoy that and thrive on the stress of it. So all that were things I really did enjoy about it. It was kind of an adrenaline rush at times, if you will, in certain situations.
So I felt like that was really great. But again, it always ultimately it comes back to the patients. You, in this type of unit and I see a patient that comes in that is literally on death's door being kept alive artificially by machines and you see this individual progress through whether that be a heart transplant or a bilateral lung transplant and you actually get to see them and walk them out the front door when they leave. Some of these patients may not leave for a year. I mean I literally had a bilateral lung transplant patient who was on their 366th day. They were finally released to go home for the first time. And that is a proud moment. You line the halls, you play Eye of the Tiger. It's a very, very rewarding thing to be a part of.
And clearly becoming a nurse, especially a critical care registered nurse has some stringent requirements and a long and grueling, I guess for lack of a better word, process, but for good reason, right? You want to be able to get out the other side qualified, prepared for the day to days of the reality of being a registered nurse. What was that certification process like for you and what are some of the differentiators that come with achieving being a critical care registered nurse?
Pretty much across the board in the US they've primarily went to... They're basically eliminating any associates or ADN nursing programs and primarily going to four year degree programs for all nursing. So that way it's a BSN minimum standard across the board ideally as is the goal of that. So typically you're going to look at a minimum of four years to obtain your nursing degree. And then once you've obtained your actual degree from your institution of study, you then have to sit for the NCLEX exam, which is your licensure exam to get your actual RN. So as you progress through your career and you advance your career, you'll have to periodically take some additional courses, extended learning. Really you're a lifelong learner as a nurse. So just plan on essentially being in some form of schooling one way or another really for the remainder of your career, but ultimately that's just going to make you that much better of a health care provider in doing so.
Now in terms of differentiating between critical care nurse and an RN, really that is going to be defined by your state's institution. Every state is a little bit different, but me for example, with mine you had to have a certain amount of documented hours in certain acute... A certain level of acuity setting. So a certain amount of patient care hours in a ICU setting, a certain amount of patient care hours in a PCU setting. So really you just have to accumulate the hours and as well there is additional testing that you have to do in order to actually get that certification.
And that difference in that between the two nurses, after you get that, a lot of times that can be a bump up in pay if you continue to progress forward to try and advance your, whether it be degree or certificates.
All right, let's connect the dots on your journey now on what led you to Champion. So with your passion for care, what was it about Champion Chair that took you basically out of the care profession and into the more B2B side of healthcare?
Well, one of the things honestly that with Champion that I was really evident from the first conversation that I had with whom is now our VP of sales, Matt Burke, is from every interaction from the first one with him, from the time I started with the company, it's been a very, almost feels like a family sort of atmosphere. There's always an open line of communication within the company. Because the company is a bit smaller, it does allow us to be more innovative in what we can do. So perhaps a change on a chair that you may want to make, rather than having you go through a bunch of additional hoops, it's much easier to implement those sorts of changes being that it is a smaller company. There's less, basically less barriers to get a task accomplished a lot of times. There's that, but really also they're providing a service for a patient populations that is... It's an absolute necessity.
When a patient is hospitalized, if they're... We're getting them up out of the bed. We don't want them in the bed. We want them out of the bed as much as possible, even if it's getting up out of the bed and walking over to a recliner, because they're going to be sitting straight up and down. They're going to have better gas exchange. It's overall going to help their recovery as a patient. So by knowing that we're able to provide a product for individuals that ultimately if used appropriately can help a patient progress and hopefully get home to their loved ones a little more quickly, I feel like there's a lot of value in that.
On top of that, just myself and going into facilities when... I bring a demo chair into a facility to demo for the staff and patients. And then I leave it there for a week, two weeks for patients and staff to utilize and get a feel for it. When I go back, all I hear is about how the patients basically are kind of fighting over who gets to sit in our chair. Their overall experience is just a better experience in those types of settings because they're more comfortable, and so they're happier.
So let's look at some of the gear and some of the tools that nurses need in their day to day that are incredibly essential. One of them being, well, the chair that their patients sit in as they treat them. It might seem like a small thing, but it's something that needs to weather years of use and needs to be easy to use, not get in the way, be flexible. And this is something that Champion Chair has perfected. So I want to just kind of showcase why this tool is incredibly necessary and what parts of it need to be most flexible and most frictionless for day to day care.
So from a nurse's perspective, how does a treatment recliner align with the needs of a caregiver? And feel free to reference some of Champion's products if you'd like there, but speak a little more generally about why those treatment recliners need to align with the caregiver.
Again, as it relates with with nurses and as you touched on, it's absolutely a tool. Our recliners are a Class 1 medical device and they're specifically designed for the healthcare environment. So as a nurse and somebody wanting to utilize these chairs, for me there's a couple things that would stand out as being things that I would look for. One would be maneuverability of this chair.
If I need to move this chair around the room, I need to transfer a patient in and out of this chair, is it set up in a way that is going to allow me to do that safely for both the patient as well as the caregiver? So that's one of the number one injuries or actually the number one injury for nurses and healthcare providers in acute setting is back injuries. And so having a chair like this to where a patient has the ability with different accessories and functions we have, whether that be electric recline, heat massage, USB ports on the side of the chairs, whatever it may be, if the patient is able to be more proactive in their own recovery, patient outcomes statistically are much, much better.
Not only that, again to reiterate with the back injuries, if a patient is able to reposition themselves independently and do it, they need to do independently. The nurse is repositioning the patient less, thus decreasing the risk of injury for both the patient as well as the caregiver. With our chairs, though, there's a couple things that kind of aid in that. With our chairs, we can have a higher casters and wheels on them, four to five inch. And so this makes this chair easy to maneuver and actually utilize as a transport device. So we really do have a lot of different accessories to go with our chairs as well as models of chairs to really sort of fit any clinical need that one would have.
How have you seen poor treatment recliners negatively impact care for nurses? What can a recliner do wrong that actually makes care more difficult or at least less intuitive?
So a big thing with that would be, and one of the things that is counterintuitive, but is one of the things with our recliner that we do really well is actually disinfecting. How are we able to clean this chair quickly, efficiently, but in a way that's thorough and we're going to be doing appropriate antiseptic techniques. So with this type of chair, with the swing, the side swing arms sliding open, you're able to get into all areas of this chair to clean it. There's also because of that with the swing open arms, there's no areas of entrapment in the chair. So for example, if a patient had a chest tube in place and that chest tube became dislodged when they were sitting in one of our recliners, any fluid or blood that would then be leaked out would go directly to the floor.
A nurse or caregiver would be able to see that immediately and then diagnose and treat the situation, as opposed to other recliners have areas of entrapment underneath the recliner to where blood and other fluids can pool, thus making it harder to diagnosis a situation and treat it. As well as in terms of patient transfers, so there are a lot of recliners on the market that, going back even to the swing away arms, that do not offer a swing away arm option. So what you're essentially doing is having to lift a patient up over the side of the arm of a chair. And again, increasing risk for an injury for patient and caregiver in doing so.
Beyond the nurse's perspective of using this treatment recliner, are there any other large scale or longterm benefits that come from going with the Champion recliner versus the competition or versus any other recliner? What are the broader, I guess positives that come with this recliner, both for the hospital, for doctors, for any other caregivers in the facility? Go and break that down for us.
Really the value. The value in that is it's really on a lot of different levels. It's at the sort of on the unit level in terms of, because we have such high quality and durable chairs, the life expectancy out of these chairs is going to last you a lot longer than a lot of other chairs on the market. Not only that, because of we build our chairs in a modular way, because of this, this is great. So in the event, for example, if you would rip a seat cushion on one of our recliners, you don't have to throw the baby away with the bath water, if you will. Because it's modular, myself or a repair company could come in and just remove that and replace it with a new one and therefore the chair's not going to be out of service for an extended period of time by being able to just modularly swap out that cushion on the recliner.
So you have that in terms of reduced downtime for the chair, so you're getting more bang for your buck, if you will, for it. But not only that, a major thing as it relates to hospital reimbursement, Medicare patients especially. There's something that's called HCAHPS. What that means is hospital consumer assessment of healthcare providers and systems survey. What this is, is every Medicare patient who's hospitalized, when they are discharged, they're going to receive in the mail a scorecard that is going to ask them to rate the care that was received while they were in-patient. Now based upon this scorecard, how they fill it out, if they fill it out to reflect a negative score for the hospital, there is a direct correlation with those HCAHPS scores and how the hospitals are reimbursed.
Therefore, by being able to improve patient satisfaction with things, with electric recline, a heat massage, USB ports, those kinds of comfort measures with our chairs, you increase patient satisfaction. Hopefully they're going to fill out that score card with a little bit higher marks for the institution and inevitably the healthcare system gets reimbursed at a fair rate.
Just in general, as you have been more ingrained in this side of the industry, have you run up against patient room seating being passed off as treatment seating ever?
Yes.
And if so, why does that reality manifest itself and how does that affect the care that nurses can give and where does Champion fit into that?
I find that more so in the... not in the hospitals per se, but more in the outpatient infusion centers, the clinics, that kind of thing. A lot of just basically La-Z-Boy recliners, which is great if you have it at the house and you're watching a little TV and for relaxation. But the problem with this, with all these patients sitting in these types of recliners, for one, they sit really low to the ground. And so a patient, if they have issues getting to a standing or a seated position, because they sit so low to the ground, that is going to cause an issue with mobility. As well as generally speaking, they're not built in a way that is going to be orthopedically supportive.
And so there are going to be very soft, and so you're not going to have that good orthopedic support throughout the body, which is going to lead to more sort of aches and pains, that kind of thing. So that affects care in terms of it all goes back again to more times a nurse is making contact with the patient to aid in helping them reposition. So with a substandard sort of product, a patient is going to require more assistance in their day to day activities while they're being cared for. So that is going to ultimately take time out of the nurse's day to where they could be concentrating on other tasks. So Champion sort of how we kind of fit into this equation, things that I've been doing is just really, especially when they have those types of chairs, bringing in one of our chairs into their facilities to go through, to demo, and then to let them utilize that chair.
And I mean the proof is in the pudding with it. We show a chair, they sit in a chair and they love the chair. So I've yet to experience a time to where I brought it in, in one of these circumstances and they not want to be sitting in our chairs moving forward.
So beyond this, is there a need to educate on the difference between those two types of seatings from a clinical standpoint? And if so, what kind of education is Champion Chair doing to make caregivers at all levels more in tune with how important this kind of gear is for quality treatment?
Definitely education is for sure needed. A big part of the way that I will approach it is having the institution looking at ultimately what function are they're trying to perform. The answer is they're caring for patients. They're caring for patients in an acute care setting, and so the need to have a Class 1 medical device in their facility to do this only makes sense.
All right, Jonathan Massey, thank you so much for joining us on this episode of Champions of Care. Do you have any final thoughts before we let you go here on the podcast on the relationship between something like a recliner or basically just quality and efficient gear, and the caregivers at every level? Registered nurses, critical care, registered nurses, doctors, surgeons. What does that relationship I guess most need and where should we be putting our attention to solve those issues?
So ultimately you do get what you pay for with it. So I feel like especially as it relates to the health care setting, if there's ever a time to make sure you're purchasing a high quality product, it would be in this sort of setting. Ultimately if you provide the best possible tools for your healthcare providers, your nurses, PT, ancillary services, et cetera, they're going to be able to provide a better care for the patient. And in doing so, not only are your patients going to be happier, but also your staff is going to be happier. So ultimately if anybody out there is looking for a high quality Class 1 medical recliner, be sure to reach out to Champion Manufacturing. We'll be able to help you out.
All right. Jonathan Massey, thank you so much again. Jonathan is a CCRN regional account manager for Champion Manufacturing. Jonathan, we appreciate your time. Stay safe out there and we will have you back on the podcast soon.
Appreciate it. Have a good day. Take care.
And thank you everyone for listening to this episode of Champions of Care. If you like what you heard and want to listen to previous episodes, you can find us on both Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Also, head to our website for more content beyond just podcasts and make sure you're leaving a rating and a comment wherever you're listening to your podcast content. I'm your host Daniel Litwin, the voice of B2B. Until next time.