UPMC Nurses use compassion, science and technology to care for patients and each other during the COVID-19 pandemic. From education to staffing to documentation, UPMC nurse leaders were quick to reassess their priorities and expand upon virtual health initiatives already in place.

Members of UPMC Center for Nursing Excellence partnered with Human Resources and Capacity Management leaders to develop a systemwide flexible staff pool of resources. This staffing pool was deployed through the Central Workforce Staffing Center to address crucial staffing needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Central Workforce Staffing Center convened to address immediate staffing needs across the organization. Leveraging the use of technology through Microsoft Teams, shift to shift staffing needs were entered by each hospital/business unit staffing representative and staffing availability was matched to the facility of need. Initiatives developed and implemented by the Central Workforce Staffing Center include:

  • A Working RN Vacancy Report was created across UPMC Health Services Division to improve decision making ability for staffing reallocation and deployment.
  • A Capacity and Staffing Dashboard was developed for COVID-19 to optimize capacity management and staffing during COVID-19 surges.
  • COVID-19 Documentation – Informatics nurse leaders significantly reduced documentation requirements in alignment with Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) waivers.
  • COVID-19 Telemedicine Support – Telemedicine training was provided for all nurses at UPMC during COVID-19 to reduce exposure, conserve personnel and personal protective equipment (PPE). Read more about UPMC’s Telesitter expansion below.
Altoona Staffing Meeting


Some of our patients need observation during their hospitalization to prevent them from unintentionally harming themselves by pulling at their tubes or lines, falling, or other actions.

Telesitter technology eliminates the need for one-on-one, in-room sitters. At some UPMC hospitals, trained telesitters watch patients from a centralized monitoring station using mobile cameras. A communication mechanism is in place to notify bedside staff when a patient needs immediate attention. During the COVID-19 pandemic, UPMC was challenged to think innovatively related to safety of our healthcare providers. The traditional use of cameras for telesitting pivoted to a unique approach to observe our providers and caregivers as they donned and doffed personal protective equipment, an extra layer of safety while caring for COVID-19 patients during a turbulent time.


IV Pump Integration

UPMC Center for Nursing Excellence is at the forefront of the health care industry in using intravenous (IV) pump integration. IV pump integration is an asset to nurses as it improves patient safety by eliminating manual keystrokes for the synchronization of infusion rates and doses that are administered to patients. Bi-directional communication between the eRecord and the IV pump now takes place electronically. Through barcode scanning at the pump, the electronic health record is updated without manual keystrokes. This double-checks that the right medication goes to the right patient at the right time, using the appropriate route of delivery, and then is notated in the medical record after the barcode scanning. Bedside nurses played an important role in the design and planning since it impacts their work and how they care for patients.

Human Milk Management

In 2020, Human Milk Management was implemented across all Mother Baby and NICU settings. This technology uses positive patient identification (barcode scanning) to receive, store, fortify and administer human breastmilk in Women’s Health and NICU inpatient settings.

Nursing Research

Across UPMC, nurses are positively influencing patient outcomes, their professional practice and their work environment with nurse-driven research projects. These creative initiatives are powerful examples of nursing excellence and collaboration using evidence-based practice to make an impact in health care for our patients and communities.

The Impact of Bedside Shift Reports on HCAHPS Scores and CMS Penalty Claims: A multi-hospital study, involves 18 UPMC hospitals and several nurse co-PIs across the system. The study supports our Evidence Based Nursing Council members in learning more about facilitating research, supports UPMC hospitals’ Magnet® journeys and Magnet® requirements for nurse-led research, and finally, it supports the advancement of nursing excellence and nursing clinical practice.

Abigail Hebb, MSN, RN, CMSRN at UPMC Shadyside completed a study to yield insights on satisfaction of continuous video monitoring (CVM) in comparison to in-room patient sitters at a Western Pennsylvania hospital. Cecelia Zamarripa, MSN, RN, CWON at UPMC Presbyterian completed a research study on subepidermal moisture measures, visual skin assessment and early pressure injury in dark skin tones.

Below is one example of important research being completed by UPMC nurses.

Satisfaction and Technology Acceptance of Staff Utilizing Continuous Video Monitoring in Comparison to In-Room Patient Sitters