Praise and gratitude equally abundant at State of Nursing eventMay. 21, 2020, 8:00 AM
by Doug Campbell
Like virtually all large meetings these days, the 2020 State of Nursing address was conducted via teleconference, on Zoom.
This year’s event, held Tuesday, May 19, was attended by nearly 600 from their homes, offices and nurses stations and featured a surprise visitor. The address was part of VUMC’s ongoing recognition of National Nurses Week and 2020 being the Year of Nurse, which honors the 200th birthday of Florence Nightingale.
Wright Pinson, MBA, MD, Deputy CEO and Chief Health Systems Officer, kicked off the event by thanking VUMC’s nursing workforce for their unwavering effort and commitment during the coronavirus pandemic.
“You have stepped up, passed every barrier and overcome every obstacle and continued to deliver exceptional, efficient and compassionate care to our patients and to each other during these unprecedented times,” Pinson said.
“You are an inspiration to all of us, not just at the Medical Center but across the city and the region. I am truly humbled to think where we would be without our exceptional nurses. You are a gift to the world.”
Pinson introduced Marilyn Dubree, MSN, RN, Chief Executive Nursing Officer, who outlined some of the awards, achievements and contributions of VUMC Nursing over the past year, including the integration of Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital, the opening of new clinics and programs across the region and substantial progress in quality, service and innovation — all while dealing with a pandemic that has upended the entire world.
“This year has not been what we expected, and we find ourselves facing the biggest challenge of our professional lifetimes,” Dubree said. “We’re doing that by staying focused on safety — for our patients and for each other — on communication among ourselves and across the city and on pacing, determining how we respond, ramp up, and now reopen.”
The nearly 7,000 nurses at VUMC have demonstrated the best in nursing practice, education and innovation and shown incredible flexibility, resilience and bravery.
“You have walked into spaces where you didn’t know what would happen, whether they were in patient’s homes, intensive care units, clinics or parking garages converted to testing centers. You made thousands of phone calls to patients and patient families, cross trained others to fill in other positions, screened fellow employees and wrote policies and protocols again and again as circumstances changed,” Dubree said.
“You stood with patients sick and not sick. You communicated with families that could not visit and helped be a bridge for them. You are an inspiration to all of us who are honored to work with you. The Medical Center and the entire Nashville community is proud of you. I know Florence Nightingale is.”
Dubree then introduced Jay Wellons, MD, MSPH, professor of Neurological Surgery and Pediatrics and chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. He also thanked nurses for their tireless efforts to care for patients, families and co-workers.
Wellons also spoke about the importance of personal protective equipment (PPE) and was about to outline in depth some of the efforts underway to re-sterilize N95 masks when the teleconference was crashed by an unexpected guest — country music superstar Brad Paisley.
The singer was appearing from his home, guitar in hand and sense of humor fully engaged.
“Sorry to interrupt Jay, but I think I just saved everyone from losing an hour and a half that they would never get back,” Paisley quipped. “Seriously though, it’s an incredible thing to see what ya’ll are doing and I wanted to thank you for that.”
Dubree and Wellons introduced Paisley to several VUMC nurses who shared some of their stories of helping patients, families and each other.
Paisley then played a few songs, including part of his latest hit, “Ain’t no I in beer,” which mentions nurses and first responders.
“I’ve always had this feeling of being thankful for having Vanderbilt in Nashville. Having this kind of expertise and compassion and dedication here is amazing,” Paisley said.
“Let’s all have a happy hour when this is all said and done. God bless you and thank you for taking care of Nashville.”