Adjusting the Sails

Published 10:21 am Tuesday, May 5, 2020

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By Michelle Fortune

Healthcare Umbrella


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Jimmy Dean once said, “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”

As a legendary country music artist known for his famous hit “Big Bad John” and an actor who also hosted several television programs, he ultimately added to his list of accomplishments with the creation of a well-known sausage company. I happen to enjoy Jimmy Dean sausage, especially in my mom’s homemade sausage balls. Jimmy enjoyed making sausage with his grandfather as a young boy, so after a successful career in the entertainment industry, he adjusted his sails and set a new direction.

We all seem to be adjusting our heading a bit lately. Given the stay at home order and social distancing, we are trying to figure out our new normal; specifically, how or if we will ever resume life as it used to be.

As I write this, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has released a letter to hospital and surgery leaders across the state to notify us that elective and non-urgent procedures and surgeries can be resumed. They have charted our course for returning to what we do best, caring for our neighbors and friends.

In the state’s recommendations, they advised that we need to continue to monitor our stock of vital personal protective equipment (PPE), hospital bed capacity and a plan for COVID-19 testing of pre-operative patients. St. Luke’s had already implemented plans including these items prior to the department’s letter, so we are well-positioned for a return to care.

To stay apprised of what other health systems are doing and how they are approaching a return to care, we stay well-connected with state collaboratives and work groups. We continue to communicate with state and federal organizations as we begin to navigate our way through the days ahead. Our compass will always remind us that our true north points to the safety of our patients and teammates.

Things may be a bit different as we begin our journey through a post-pandemic world. There will be requirements for social distancing, masking and temperature checks that will likely continue for some time. There may be detours along the way to our new destination, but our crew is trained, willing and able.

As of this printing, it is the beginning of National Nurses Week, May 6-12. I want to say a heartfelt thank you to our talented, caring nursing team at St. Luke’s! Because the seas of healthcare have changed significantly in recent years, it is easy to understand that the practice of nursing has also evolved in ways that we could never have imagined. We now utilize electronic medical records, glass syringes are a thing of the past, and nursing students don’t live in nursing dormitories at the hospital anymore.

Nurse practitioners (NPs) and certified registered nursing assistants (CRNAs) are two examples of advanced roles that have developed within the nursing profession. Many of these advancements have developed because of population changes that resulted in a need for updated care. Nurses and healthcare in general have adjusted our sails in the past and will do it again during Covid-19. We can emerge from this challenging time stronger, more innovative and better than we were before!

As St. Luke’s begins to return to normal levels of service, we thank you for the support and trust you place in us as your caregivers. Rest assured, we will have all hands-on deck, ensuring that everything is in shipshape order as we trim the sails and respond to all that lies ahead on the post-pandemic horizon. #StLukesNCStrong

Question or comments? Contacted Michelle at