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Stony Brook Nursing Team Gives Voice To COVID-19 Patients Through "My Story" Initiative

Nicole Barylski

"My Story" was originally created for patients with Alzheimer's disease and dementia. (Photo: Stony Brook Medicine)

Stony Brook University Hospital (SBUH) has found a unique way to help give a voice to patients that have been silenced by COVID-19. As hospitals across the nation have been forced to suspend hospital visitations, meaning those who are battling the Coronavirus are doing so without in person support from loved ones, SBUH launched the "My Story" initiative. In an effort to strengthen meaningful interactions with those that are hospitalized and caretakers, last month the Hospital began to reach out to the families of patients, many of whom are intubated and incapable of talking, to find out about patients' personal lives.

"It's such an unprecedented time with no visitors," explained Nurse Practitioner April Plank. "'My Story' is giving families an opportunity to tell us about their loved one that we are caring for." Plank, along with a nursing team that includes Carolyn Santora, MS, RN, Chief of Regulatory Affairs, Susan Robbins, MS, RN, CPPS, Assistant Director of Nursing, Grace Propper, MS, RN, CPNP, NNP-BC, Director of Quality Improvement, Lisa Reagan, M.S., Patient Coordinator, are spearheading the initiative.

After just one week, the group had been in contact with the families of those in the ICU, who all agreed to participate in the initiative.

The SBUH team compiled information such as patients' favorite music, TV shows and additional interests, which is documented in a patient's "My Story" file, posted both inside and outside the patient's room. That information is being utilized by caregivers to help create a more meaningful connection with the patients that they are treating.

"We have had nothing but great feedback from both families and patients," Plank added.

The "My Story" program was created by Carolyn O'Neill, Elder Life Coordinator at Stony Brook Medicine, for patients with Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

Plank was also a driving force behind the Hospital's "Face Behind the Mask" - which gives patients the chance to recognize their caregivers by sight. As personal protective equipment covers a significant portion of a healthcare worker's face, it can be challenging to identify who is behind the mask. Frontline workers at SBUH now don staff ID pictures on their gowns as they visit with and treat patients so patients can see their entire face. The program has been rolled out throughout the Hospital.

Nicole is the Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com where she focuses on lifestyle, nightlife, and mixology. She grew up in the Hamptons and currently resides in Water Mill. www.hamptons.com NicoleBarylski NicoleBarylski

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