Year of the Nurse: Celebrating Our Healthcare Heroes

The World Health Organization named 2020 the Year of the Nurse and Midwife in honor of Florence Nightingale’s 200th birthday. Florence Nightingale is known for formalizing the nursing profession, making way for the growth and evolution of nursing as a career with a myriad of disciplines and specialty practices.

In the early months of 2020, the UPMC Center for Nursing Excellence prepared a year long celebration of our amazing nurses. Little did we know our nurse heroes would shine brighter than ever as they were confronted by the global COVID-19 pandemic. When COVID-19 affected the communities we serve, UPMC nurses rose to the occasion –preparing units and departments, setting up testing facilities, creating and operationalizing new clinical protocols, and creatively implementing ways for loved ones to communicate with patients in the hospital.

Early on, UPMC came to the forefront of providing our community with information and knowledge about the Coronavirus as it became available. UPMC quickly set up an initial specimen collection facility in Pittsburgh’s South Side neighborhood.

UPMC’s preparedness efforts were extensive. UPMC established screening guidelines to effectively determine whether a patient was sick with COVID-19 and had a dedicated hotline to field questions and potential cases from frontline staff. UPMC also dedicated efforts to ensure staff stay safe while caring for patients with a strong supply chain system in place to ensure an adequate supply of personal protective equipment for our caregivers.

UPMC quickly implemented a staffing and pay protection program to provide certainty and financial protections for UPMC employees and their families throughout the early part of the pandemic. Many of our employees were redeployed into a different role to assist their colleagues. For some nurses, when there was limited work available (in their current role/department or via a redeployment), the employee was compensated at their full salary or hourly rate for their scheduled hours.

Throughout it all, UPMC nurses were on the frontlines of combatting a global pandemic, adjusting how they worked throughout a fluid and evolving situation. Their commitment, perseverance, and compassion are the driving force guiding our communities through this challenging time. Our nurses are caring for patients when they need them the most. UPMC Nurses are our health care heroes!