Peterborough-born nurse works ‘behind the scenes’ at New York hospital battling COVID-19

A Peterborough, Ont. nurse is doing her part “behind the scenes” to help frontline workers at a New York hospital gripped with COVID-19 patients.

Elizabeth Blodgett Horsley is the director of simulation at The Brookyln Hospital Center, a 464-bed teaching hospital located in downtown Brooklyn.

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Since joining the hospital three years ago, her primary role is to implement medical and emergency simulations to help teach and keep staff updated on responses on things such as vital sign monitoring and code responses.

“It’s one of the standards in teaching and learning now,” she said. “It’s how this generation is learning. It’s not just medical management. We find out things like if a drawer cart doesn’t open properly, or if someone doesn’t have access to a certain door. Those little things make a difference in patient care.”

However, as the hospital marks its 175th anniversary, there has been little time to celebrate this spring as a coronavirus outbreak has swept through New York state with nearly 140,000 cases of COVID-19.  Earlier this week, the New York Times reported the Brooklyn Hospital Center had 2,000 COVID-19-related deaths and the death toll is expected to continue to rise.

Since the outbreak, Blodgett Horsley’s role has changed. She’s now part of a team operating a command centre for the entire hospital, which utilizes one central number to call if a unit has an issue, regardless of how trivial it might be.

“Whether they need housekeeping, a bed moved, supplies, PPE (personal protective equipment), they call this one number and we take care of the problem,” she said.

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She has also been tasked with refreshing the skills of a new medical corps consisting of volunteers such as physiotherapists, medical students, retired medical professionals and others who enlisted to fight the pandemic. Blodgett Horsely recently provided a refresher on providing patients with an intravenous (IV) and taking blood samples.

“I’m here to do whatever I can do to support our frontlines,” she said.

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“Every day is a different thing but I’m still coming to work every day.”

She said the hospital remains committed and united in fighting the COVID-19 outbreak — a perseverance she says she has never seen following her medical studies and previous work at several hospitals in Canada and the U.S.

“It’s amazing, the team, the people together,” she said. “It’s the most amazing example of leadership I have ever worked under. This is by far the best leadership I’ve ever seen of a team coming together.”

The native of Peterborough, who graduated from Thomas A. Stewart Second School, says she’s honoured to play a “small role” at the hospital.

“I find it amazing I’m in the midst of all this coming from Peterborough,” she said.

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