New CNO at St. Francis-Emory Healthcare weighs in on pandemic

New CNO at St. Francis-Emory Healthcare weighs in on pandemic

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - St. Francis-Emory Healthcare has a new chief nursing officer as nurses remain on the front lines.

Chief Nursing Officer Elizabeth Later weighs in on taking over this role during a pandemic and her take on COVID-19.

Later said COVID-19 has pretty much become a universal experience as she recently moved to the Chattahoochee Valley from Utah. She said what they’re doing at St. Francis for COVID-19 is similar to what they did out west, which is where she lived for the past decade.

“We do daily monitoring of staffing and metrics around COVID-19,” she said. “We watch our PPE utilization.”

As some recent reports indicate, Georgia could be in the red zone for an outbreak in cases. Later said the hospital had about 50 COVID-19 patients about two weeks ago.

“We’ve seen a decrease in the number of hospitalizations that we’ve had. Today, we have a number that’s in the 30s. So, we are seeing a little bit of a decrease. Why that is, we don’t know. Again, we’re just learning as we go,” said Later.

As far as Later’s role as chief nursing officer goes, she said almost half of the hospital employees are nurses.

“There’s been a lot of changes that have happened through COVID and that’s because we’re just all learning as we go. Policies have changed. The way we do things have changed, and so the CNO is really integral to making sure that clinical voice is heard at the bedside and it’s implemented safely for our patients,” she said.

Later said the best way to slow down the spread of the virus is to wear a mask.

“What we’re doing is buying time until we can get a vaccine developed,” she said.

Later said it’s really about protecting the high risk individuals until there is a vaccine, but she reminds us that anyone can get COVID-19.

“There’s just no rhyme or reason for who gets really sick and who doesn’t,” she said. “So, that’s why it’s really important for all of us to do the right thing, which is wear your mask when you’re out in the community, create some space around you, and wash your hands and stay home if you’re not feeling good,” Later said.

I also asked Later about COVID and kids going back to school.

When asked about COVID-19 and children returning to school, Later said with still so much unknown about the virus, parents who are concerned about symptoms or not sure what to look for should work carefully with their child’s doctor who knows them best and can give them individual guidance.

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