Q&A with NP Jennifer Patton, Serving Patients on the Front Lines of COVID-19
Monday, April 20, 2020
Posted by: Erin Cusack
This month TNP is highlighting nurse practitioner Jennifer Patton. Patton has been a nurse practitioner for five years and has been serving on the front lines of COVID-19. Read Patton’s Q&A below to find out more about her and how she’s helping fight the pandemic in her community.
Q: Tell me about where you work and what you do:
A: I’m a Family Nurse Practitioner at George West Medical Clinic in George West, which opened in September 2018. Previously I worked at Next Care Urgent Care in Rockport, one of the hardest hit areas during Hurricane Harvey. The first time I experienced disaster response was with Hurricane Harvey. Our urgent care clinic in Rockport suffered severe water damage in the storm and had no electricity, and we had to build a temporary tent outside of our clinic to treat and care for patients. Our tent was one of the first clinics open in the area following the hurricane, and we provided a wide range of services – from basic first aid, suturing and splints to blood pressure checks, tetanus shots and medication refills and management.
Q: How did helping patients in Hurricane Harvey help prepare you for this pandemic?
A: It was one of those situations where you had to think fast while helping patients under totally new circumstances and with very limited resources. Now, during this pandemic we are having to adapt our clinics again and use technology and telemedicine to take care of our patients. Hurricane Harvey helped prepare nurses to be versatile and face rapidly changing situations like what we’re experiencing now with COVID-19.
Q: Why did you become an NP?
A: Becoming an NP was the next logical step in helping people, and in my own creative way. My background is in rural healthcare, and I’m used to serving the underserved and being ready for anything that walks through my door.
Q: How are you directly helping your community fight COVID-19?
A: We’re doing a ton of telemedicine and curbside visits, where we go out to patients in their car and test them for COVID-19. We’ve also been doing weekly announcements on Facebook with COVID-19 updates and what you can do while waiting out the pandemic. Recently we’ve been sharing tips on keeping tabs on your mental health, how to keep your immune system healthy and how to exercise during this time. (See one of Jennifer's video updates in the clip above, where she gives an update on the latest Texas Department of Health Services COVID-19 case counts and testing and also provides some information and resources for patients experiencing anxiety during this uncertain time).
Q: How has this pandemic changed the way you work and interact with patients?
A: It’s a struggle because nurses love physical interaction with their patients. When you don’t get to see or have that hands-on experience with patients, it’s difficult. We’ve been trying to go out there and still give them the same level of compassionate, patient-centered care, while still being safe and limiting physical contact as needed.
Q: What message would you like to share with other NPs/health care providers as they continue to navigate COVID-19?
A: It’s important to remind everybody, whether it’s someone making policies in the government or medical professionals, this is an unprecedented situation. We’re used to following best practices and guidelines, but there are a lot of unknowns with this virus and information changes on a daily basis, which is a point of frustration for everyone. The only thing we can do is make the best choices we can for our patients with the information at hand and practice self-care on a daily basis. I’m encouraging everyone to get some sunlight, exercise, eat well and just take care of themselves until this thing plays out.
Q: What do you do in your spare time to take care of yourself during this time?
A: I love cross-fit and exercising outside with my four kids. Those two things alone will help you keep your sanity!