The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic has exacerbated staffing challenges already facing critical care nurses in intensive care units. Many intensive care units have been understaffed and the majority of nurses working in these units have little experience.
To describe how the skilled tele–intensive care unit nurses in our health system quickly changed from a patient-focused strategy to a clinician-focused approach during the coronavirus disease 2019 crisis.
We modified workflows, deployed home workstations, and changed staffing models with the goal of providing additional clinical support to bedside colleagues while reducing exposure time and conserving personal protective equipment for those caring for this highly contagious patient population. The unit changed focus and granted more than 300 clinicians access to technology that enabled them to care for patients remotely, added nearly 200 mobile carts, and allowed more than 20 tele–intensive care unit nurses to work from home.
Tele–intensive care unit nursing provided clinical knowledge to the nurses covering current and expanded critical care units. Using technology, virtual rounding, and increased collaboration with nurses, tele–intensive care unit nursing minimized the risk to bedside nurses while maintaining a high level of care for patients.
Tele–intensive care unit nurses provided a proactive, holistic approach to caring for critically ill patients via camera as part of their routine workflow. In addition, during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, these nurses created a new strategy in virtual health care to be implemented during a crisis.