We are profiling amazing practice and community nurses, and midwives, during the Covid-19 pandemic as part of our Nursing Stars campaign with New NHS Alliance. Here’s Sara Petronijevich.
What is your usual role?
I work as a practice nurse four days a week in West Sussex. I have a varied role including chronic disease management, immunisations, and a leg ulcer clinic that has been running for two and a half years now.
How did your role change during Covid-19?
Face to face appointments for patients with a chronic disease ceased immediately and the nurse practioners began telephone consultations. We started to look at lists of patients who were eligible for pneumonia vaccinations, for example, but had not yet taken them up. Appointments for blood tests were changed to allow longer time and space between patients. Appointments for dressings, leg ulcers needed to continue, but we altered the structure to allow time for cleaning in between, and measures such as asking patients to come to the back door, checking their temperature at the door, and asking all patients to wear a mask. Speaking through a mask can be challenging as I feel like I can end up shouting all day.
The leg ulcer clinic had to change from a fast-paced two-person quite jolly clinic, to one nurse with longer appointment times to reduce exposure, and the patients tend to be the higher-risk cohort.
Immunisation clinics also changed. Parents were nervous about attending but we spaced appointments so they were never in the waiting room, cleaned in between and all parents have to wear masks. There seems to be have been far fewer ‘DNAs’ during the lockdown. We took similar measures when we recommenced smear tests, spacing out the appointments initially and getting the patient to wear a mask. We do all we can to make it all safe. At work, we all social distance, even using MS teams for the meetings. “
Why would you say you are a Covid-19 Nursing Star?
I’ve been proud of working in a surgery that plans, is proactive and supports patients well. For example, we now have a surgery uniform which has had quite a unifying effect. Everybody has been supportive of each other working while in a different way. We’ve had daily team meetings. It’s a tight team.
How do you think Covid-19 will impact the way you work in the future?
I think it might make me more thoughtful about those everyday contacts because for wound care, bloods and things like that, you’ve already got infection control in your head, even before Covid-19.
I’m actually an infection control link nurse. When things go back to some sort of normality, I’m going to look for a revised definition of what infection link nurse means. It was disseminating information, using the right bags and bins with the right lids, trying to pass on any changes- but with this, I think infection control is so much everyone’s business now that it should be an agenda item every week.