Honoring Heroic N.J. Nurses in the Pandemic: JoAnn Wolfson

 In Nurses Weekly

As an ICU Clinical Director at Monmouth Medical
Center during the pandemic the priority for JoAnn
Wolfson, DNP, RN, CCRN, NJSNA Region 4
member, was to keep the ICU staff safe by ensuring
a safe ICU environment and providing moral support.

To minimize exposure JoAnn worked with the
facilities department to put additional electrical outlets
outside each ICU room and portals in the wall so
that the IV pumps and ventilators could be managed
outside the room. JoAnn explained, “In some of
our rooms we could even do CVVH [hemodialysis] through the portal if there was enough distance.”

When the first COVID-19 patient arrived, JoAnn
worked with the ICU staff in setting up the room
with the equipment outside. “When the night staff
came in and saw the transformation, one of the
nurses just started to cry because she was so happy
they could get this done in a few days to minimize
their exposure,” stated JoAnn. To help care for the
onslaught of COVID-19 patients, the ICU staff were
supported with PACU, OR and SDS nurses. OR techs
and social workers were also employed as spotters
to ensure nurses and physicians were donning and
doffing properly to help maintain their safety and
minimize exposure. In order to provide moral support
for the ICU staff, Zoom virtual seminars were held
with a therapist to allow the staff an opportunity to

To inspire the staff and keep morale up every
time a patient is discharged a snippet of the “Fight
Song” by Rachel Platten was played throughout
the hospital with an announcement that this song is
dedicated to a patient, that was COVID-19 positive,
who is going home! Additionally one night starting
at 6:45 PM, during the peak of the pandemic, all
hospital leaders lined up in the main lobby to cheer
and clap for the staff while the “Fight Song” was
played. JoAnn stated, “It was a great moment, some
staff cried which made us cry, and the staff felt it was
so nice to see the CEO and CNO cheering for them.”

The staff also were given lawn signs which stated,
“A hero lives here” to put on their lawns to let their
community know about their work. The COVID-19
pandemic was truly a challenging and rewarding time.
This was exemplified when the ICU was filled with
COVID-19 patients, and they were able to extubate
their first COVID-19 patient who had been on the
ventilator for 11 days. JoAnn explains, “It was a huge
boost to all of us. Then days later we went downstairs
to cheer as this patient was being discharged.”

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