The Mazzoni Center in Philadelphia has always been a proponent of ally-ship and dedicated to providing quality comprehensive health and wellness services to individuals who need it in an LGBTQ-focused environment, and the people who work at the local organization certainly throw their heart and soul into their work, especially the nurses.
“We currently have 3 full-time RNs and one part-time RN who works remotely on staff at this time,” says Devon Taylor, the Director of Practice Management at the Mazzoni Center. “Their main objective while here is to engage our patients [through] education [and] support-wise and just making sure that their patient’s needs are met. So, their day to day typically looks like triaging patients over the phone or over our tele-health system, treatment and counseling around positive cases for STDs, a lot of diabetes education and medication adherence, and some general touching base with patients to make sure they’re okay. They do all of our hospital follow-up touches and they have a lot of things on their plate that they do…They are an essential part of our time for sure.”
It’ no secret that a nurses’ job is one that takes a lot of heart, and in 2020 and 2021, that work was even more challenging. COVID-19 was, and still is, a wave of unpredictability, and an anchor through the storm for many patients were their own nurses.
“Our nurses are our a huge part of our time for patient engagement, patient education, and just really honing in on that one on one relationship and getting a rapport with our patients so they have a friendly face, a common name and someone they can reach out too if they’re not feeling well,” explains Taylor. “So, really, they are the backbone of our health care here at Mazzoni. They are the point person, the person our patients talk to right away when they’re not feeling well to get triaged, to figure out if they need to see the doctor or if they need to get something over the counter and what their next steps are. So, for us, our RNs are really just that patient liaison making sure that patients feel confident, comfortable and educated on what they need out of their medical care.”
Throughout the pandemic, all of the Mazzoni’s RNs utilized their patient skills into treating Philadelphians through technology, not just for a quick check-in either, but for whatever they needed whenever they needed it. That in itself is a service not many are able to acquire.
“It could be phone calls, in-person or tele-health through our patient portal if someone doesn’t have access to a phone…So they are really savvy at making sure that they can use any avenue, even mailing things to patients,” says Taylor. “We’ve done home visits with patients during the pandemic—they’re really just branching out and figuring out what that need is and what avenue they need to take to meet that need. It’s something they’ve definitely had to adapt too. For us, our RNs were huge and a vital part to making sure that we had staff to vaccinate our patients, to follow up with our patients and unfortunately, if someone was positive with COVID, then doing daily checks-ins every other day or weekly check-ins. They were a huge part of that patient communication and care throughout that whole process. They have definitely been a vital part of communicating with patients throughout this whole vaccination and when folks were positive… So they’ve been on both ends.”
For Nurses’ Week, the Mazzoni feels that honoring their nurses isn’t just what they earned, but what they deserve— pre and post pandemic.
“I think it’s important to shine a light on our nurses, specifically this year because they did take the brunt of all of our patient’s needs, communications and concerns,” says Taylor. “They really did problem solve throughout this whole pandemic, even more so than the rest of the team in that they really were getting every single case sent to them as far as triage goes…So I think it’s important for us to say, hey, we see you, we see all of the work that you’ve done for us the past year, and we appreciate and value your work that you do every day.”
The Mazzoni recently has brought their three nurses back on site, which is something that Taylor says they all been looking forward too.
“We brought our nurses back into the building so they’re rotating through. They are actually going to be branching out again…Pre-pandemic, our nurses each had a project that they worked on: One person worked on diabetes education, one person was big into prep services, and we also have a behavioral health department that we work very closely with that is located within our organization. Our nurses are gearing up to tackle those projects again and be available for patients more and do some more face to face appointments, so within the coming months, our nurses will be back on the floor. They’ll be collaborating with patients in a more face to face manor, so we’re excited and I know they’re excited to tackle this project again.”
To learn more about the Mazzoni Center, visit mazzonicenter.org