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Front line: LVHN nurse talks about virus

Editor’s note: This is the first installment in an occasional series about front-line workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, we visit with Jennifer Hess, coordinator of infection prevention at LVH-Pocono. Hess is a resident of Brodheadsville.

Tell us about yourself: I am 40 years old and have been a nurse for nearly 20 years. I am married and have two children, ages 3 and 4, as well as three older stepchildren. My hobbies include family time such as day trips, reading and doing artwork with my kids. We like to do kindness projects for others. We also enjoy date nights with our friends.

Your background in nursing: My career in nursing began as nurse on a medical surgical/oncology unit, followed by surgical intensive care. I then left the hospital and worked as a home infusion nurse and director of a home health and hospice agency. I began my career in infection prevention seven years ago when a colleague recommended me, based on my professional qualities.

Job at LVH-Pocono: I am the coordinator of the Infection Prevention Program at LVH-Pocono, responsible for ensuring all health care professionals are educated on best practices in relation to personal protective equipment and infection prevention. I have been in this role for almost seven years and became certified in infection prevention four years ago.

Why nursing: I knew I wanted to be a nurse at a young age. I always enjoyed taking care of people. I wanted to do something in my career that is challenging, interesting and makes a difference in people’s lives. The best aspect about nursing is there are so many paths you can take, and they all help people in a meaningful way.

Experience being with COVID-19 patients: My job as an infection preventionist is to ensure the safety of the staff and patients by educating on the correct usage of PPE and ensuring processes are in place to reduce the risk of contamination and infection spread. I work with various departments of the hospital to ensure supplies are available, facility controls are in place, and appropriate governing agencies are notified of infection-related concerns.

Your challenges: The biggest challenge has been providing education about the processes set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding PPE, testing and general infection control practices, as this was a fluid situation as the COVID-19 pandemic evolved. COVID-19 has changed all our lives, both professionally and personally, and for health care professionals specifically it has altered how we interact with patients.

How you stay dedicated: I love what I do, I love the staff that I work with, and I take pride in knowing that I can help make a difference during a difficult time. The LVH-Pocono leadership team, especially President Elizabeth Wise, Dr. Susheer Gandotra – Infectious Disease Specialist, and Dr. Jonathan Goldner, Associate Chief Medical Officer, have been instrumental in providing exceptional leadership, support, and clarity during an unprecedented time. The staff on all levels have come together to provide exceptional care to their patients and each other in a way that is extraordinary under the current circumstances.

What people should know about COVID-19: It’s real. It’s here. It affects people differently. Some people may get a mild illness from it. Others are ventilated and not surviving. The virus does not discriminate, and it doesn’t always make sense regarding how those infected are impacted.

Practicing social distancing and hand hygiene, and wearing face masks are all working. Please keep up the great work. I know everyone is under a lot of stress and staying home may not feel like you are doing much. But you are saving countless lives and it has been successful in helping to flatten the curve.

Everyone working together for the greater good are all heroes.

Jennifer Hess