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PPE Coach helps caregivers dress for COVID safety

A nurse’s personal story of changing jobs to support coworkers wearing personal protective equipment, ignoring fear in order to care for patients.

Category: Frontline Workers

My name is Susan Keenan and I’m a nurse in Surgical Services at Baystate Wing Hospital. However, many of us are working outside our normal roles in these abnormal times and my current role is PPE (personal protective equipment) coach.

As a PPE coach, I observe doctors, nurses and other caregivers as they put on protective masks and visors, gowns and gloves before they enter a COVID-19 patient’s room. I stand back and am the voice reminding them of the additional safety steps they need to take while they are focused on caring for their patients. It is equally important they remove all these items in a manner that prevents contaminating themselves and the environment they are returning to following patient care. I find caregivers feel assured that we are there to keep them working safely.

I am in awe of the tenacious dedication required to care for patients while wearing respirators and other PPE. I am in awe of the tenacious dedication required to care for patients while wearing respirators and other PPE. Respirators are painful and exhausting. Caregivers ignore their own discomfort and enter those rooms cheerfully, staying as long as needed to care for and comfort their patients.

The most challenging aspect of working as a PPE coach, for me, is being knowledgeable about the latest policies and processes. Early on, what was recommended in the morning could be different by afternoon. We were all comparing notes, emails and notices. Together, we keep each other on track by clarifying information that was coming from different sources and continually educating ourselves on safety updates.

I am so incredibly proud of all the team members who have ignored their fear and reticence to work in environments that are so foreign to them.