This National Nurses Month, CASES is proud to recognize the work of our mobile treatment team nurses. Over the past two months, since the beginning of the outbreak of COVID-19 in New York City, CASES has swiftly adapted most of its programs and services to delivery via phone and video to comply with social distancing measures. Though many CASES staff have shifted to connecting with clients remotely, a core group of primarily clinicians and nurses continue to head into communities across the city to provide in-person essential services to clients in need. In our intensive mobile mental health treatment programs, this work includes crisis intervention, administering injectable medications (IMs), and helping clients to address urgent challenges related to hunger and/or shelter. Here’s how three of CASES’ nurses describe the impact of COVID-19 on their work with clients in the community.
Marco Duarte, a Licensed Practical Nurse on our Manhattan Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team, spoke of how decreased in-person visits have been difficult for some of his clients.
“They really need that social interaction,” Marco explains. “Our visits are routine to a lot of our clients, we’re a second family.”
It was difficult, especially towards the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, for some CASES clients to accept that they would be receiving fewer in-person visits from our staff and to understand why their service schedule was changing. Marco says that despite this, his clients are staying connected with him. When he does make in-person visits, “they’re excited to see somebody.” As public transportation became increasingly dangerous in terms of potential infection, Marco began biking to visit clients.
Jairu Siwazuri, an RN on CASES’ Brooklyn Intensive Mobile Treatment (IMT) team, said that he has been prioritizing client education about COVID-19, utilizing resources from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“We do a lot of education on COVID-19,” Jairu says. “We try our best to keep our clients informed using the most up to date resources on how to protect themselves, what the symptoms are, explaining what COVID-19 is.”
He also talks to clients about how they’re coping with the pandemic.
“It’s important,” Jairu says, “to help them keep their fear under control.”
As part of keeping his clients connected to other essential services, Jairu has continued to escort patients to doctor’s appointments to ensure they continue to address chronic health conditions, including because these conditions can make them more susceptible to the worst impacts of COVID-19.
Jo-Ann Abrams, a psychiatric nurse practitioner and a colleague of Jairu’s on the Brooklyn IMT team, provides clinical coordination for all CASES nurses. In this role, Jo-Ann has been diligently leveraging professional networks to obtain personal protective equipment (PPE) and distribute them across CASES.
“It’s times like these that nurses are really the most heroic soldiers out there,” Jo-Ann says. “They’re out there in the community interacting with patients to give them services including the injections they rely on. They haven’t complained. They arrange their lives around their work, and they haven’t refused to go out there.”
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