Nursing Support Team
at Atrium Health Mercy
Meridith Gombar, MSN, RN, CNL;
Monica Mowry, MSN, RN, NE-BC, ONC, CLSSGB;
Jason McLawhorn, MSN, RN-BC
Atrium Health Mercy consists of a community of teammates that give you the feeling of a family while delivering world-class medical care. It is the value of family and always caring for our own that spurred the development of the Mercy Fit Test Team. Mercy is not unique in the challenges faced during the pandemic: low staffing, tired teammates, and changes occurring sometimes daily. This September, yet another hurdle was presented: the need to change the entire system over to a new N95 due to an abundance of supply. Less restrictive access to needed PPE is a win for all teammates; removing the barrier of fear in staff as well as freeing needed FTEs that were used to monitor and dispense quarantined PPE. The hurdle, of course, is testing all teammates that require N95 masks to perform their job duties to the new mask- a timely task for staff already stretched thin.
Enter the Mercy Fit Test Team. Atrium Mercy has four master's prepared nurses practicing as CNEs, CNSs, and CNLs. This group came together to discuss ways that they could positively impact the Mercy teammates and ultimately get them what they needed to perform their jobs to serve our patients. A Survey of the units and departments showed a huge deficit in Department Fit Testers and department ability to train DFTs and test all teammates in the two-month deadline. This team of nurses approached their leader who backed them in their want to take on this initiative for the teammates.
Pre-work included becoming DFTs, inserting themselves into the EOC planning meetings regarding the new N95 rollout, educating teams on new DFT requirements including making "Becoming a DFT" packets for all areas, coordinating with department leaders to ascertain what teammates required fit testing, creating a schedule to cover all shifts, and working to obtain supplies to start this initiative.
The goal of the fit test team was to complete fit testing at Mercy in one month, giving a one month buffer until the October 31st deadline. Through hard work, long hours, and LOTS of masks this team was successful! The team successfully fit tested over 80% of the facility over 4 weeks with a 75% success rate covering day, night, and weekend shifts. 565 teammates were tested covering 11 nursing units and 16 departments. The success rate of 75% is the highest in the system and the team was able to work with corporate EOC to produce tips and tricks for successful fit testing that is posted on the corporate COVID-19 page. The team also spent time training unit and department fit testers so in the future the DFTs will be better equipped to perform fit testing in their areas. Within one week of the initiative ending the full-time staff member being used for managing the quarantined mask supplies was no longer needed.
All the Fit Test Team's accomplishments are noteworthy, but the most important is how they made the staff FEEL. Being able to serve their fellow teammates is what this team is most proud of. This group saw a need and immediately jumped to the task of helping their teammates/family/community here at Mercy.