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Nurses tend to be top-notch communicators, but with families of Covid patients not even able to visit their relatives, misunderstandings can arise all too easily. Nurse of the Week Kandace Williams has—well, not an app for that, exactly, but the University of Arkansas DNP student is creating a guide for families with a loved one in a Covid ICU.

Williams, who is also an ICU nurse at the University of Texas Southwest Medical Center in Dallas, has had first-hand experience as the relative of a Covid patient. Her mother was admitted to a New York hospital for Covid-related issues last year. “It was extremely frustrating when my mom was admitted,” Williams told KUAF, a Texas public broadcast station. Her healthcare knowledge didn’t seem to amount to much when she could not even visit her mother and hold her hand. Being unable to support her mom in person was “frustrating, and gave me a [constant] anxious feeling.”

While worrying about her mother, Williams thought about the enforced separation of families from their hospitalized loved ones, and realized that bad as her anxieties were, it must be far worse for people lacking her training. Thus was born her latest DNP project: a guide that helps make sense of the things families see and hear when paying virtual visits. It glosses the barrage of medical lingo, instruments, and procedures so they can better comprehend what they see and hear during a video visit.

In addition to covering the terminology, Williams’ guide explains what the imposing array of medical equipment is for, and includes a section to record notes on the patient’s status and to jot down questions for the nurse or physician. She told KUAF, “Normally [before the pandemic] they could ask ‘what is this?’ or ‘what does that machine do?’ But they can’t do that now.” The guide, says Williams, “is essentially their way of looking into the ICU without actually being there.” Recalling her own sense of helplessness when her mother was hospitalized, she has tried to demystify the workings of an ICU and its staff so families can better understand what they see and hear during their virtual visits.

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Williams’ guide is going to be adopted by her employers, the University of Texas SW Medical Center.

To listen to the KUAF podcast interview with Kandace Williams, click here.

Koren Thomas
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