Rutgers–Camden nursing school joins the fight against COVID-19 in South Jersey

Nursing students

By Mike Sepanic

In the battle against COVID-19, the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden is working at every level to support health care workers and families in South Jersey and across the region.

Through its existing health initiatives located in the Ablett Village and Branches housing complexes in Camden, the Rutgers–Camden nursing school is working to establish telehealth services to provide local residents with much-needed access to primary care services. In accordance with Executive Order 112, a Rutgers–Camden nurse practitioner is prepared to assist residents; to ensure continuity of care, access to electronic health records will be provided through the Health Information Exchange offered by the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers. The nursing school is collaborating with other Rutgers units to ensure compliance and to finalize preparation to launch the telehealth service.

In partnership with Virtua Health, the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden is embarking upon a collaborative model to address the critical need for nursing support by rapidly on-boarding senior Rutgers–Camden nursing students, including January 2020 graduates who are licensed without current employment, and graduates who have not yet taken NCLEX. The partnership will allow Rutgers–Camden seniors to complete their clinical hours for graduation (receiving credit toward meeting clinical requirements) while receiving compensation. It surges the nursing workforce for the hospital by augmenting medical-surgical care to less acute patients, thereby allowing Virtua nurses to cover very sick patients in the ERs and ICUs. Additionally, Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden juniors are being contacted regarding opportunities for nursing assistant or technician roles at Virtua. The process illustrates how healthcare facilities and academic nursing programs are collaborating to identify ways to accomplish nursing student-employment to meet nursing student learning outcomes and employment needs while assisting a local, valuable clinical partner in a time of national crisis.

Rutgers–Camden nursing faculty will propel the telehealth initiatives, which are under the director of Kathy Jackson, a clinical assistant professor. Another faculty member, Kevin Emmons, is working with the New Jersey Department of Health to set up a 250-bed field hospital in Atlantic City. The New Jersey DOH has named him chief nursing officer for the field hospital. The clinical associate professor served as a lead nurse in a U.S. Army Reserve area support medical company, and has experience in working with mobile field hospital units.

“The Rutgers School of Nursing-–Camden is well-positioned to amplify partnerships with the Housing Authority of the City of Camden, the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, and Virtua Health to serve and support our community as we fight against COVID-19 in South Jersey and beyond,” says Dean Donna Nickitas. The Rutgers–Camden dean shared her leadership perspective on how nurses respond to crisis during a video interview withInvest: South Jersey.

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