When the world paused as the coronavirus hit, Jen McEachin, Lung Nodule Coordinator and Nurse Navigator at Fauquier Health, rose to the challenge of caring for lung cancer patients during the pandemic. This is the work Jen is wired to do—she comes from a household of first responders and knows the importance of her job.
“Our life hasn’t changed very much. We all get up, go to work, and come home and talk about our day,” Jen said. “Whenever things get dim in our community, we rev up. We are all kind of adrenaline junkies. This is what we’ve trained for and we’re ready.”
Jen’s husband is in law enforcement, one of her sons is a firefighter, another son is in the U.S. Coast Guard, and she’s been in nursing for 25 years. And even though they are all on the front lines responding to COVID-19, she said all of this is probably the hardest on her youngest son who is in high school. He’s missing his friends and school while the rest of the family is working in the community.
Even though COVID-19 hasn’t caused major disruptions in Jen’s home of first responders, it has created some changes at the hospital where she works. When news of the virus began to hit, Jen said the directive was to “drop everything, cancel everything and prepare for the worst.” She knew this was serious and uncharted territory. “I had absolutely never encountered anything like this before.” But the unknown didn’t deter Jen and she prepared for whatever was coming her way.
“Everyone is very in tune with what’s happening. It’s been easy to know who needs to come in and where they’re at in the program. We are taking all of the necessary precautions, too—all patients enter through one portal and they are screened as they come in. Masks are put on and patients are coming in with a positive attitude,” she said.
Now, Jen’s ready to get back to caring for her cancer patients. She says her facility is ramping up and scheduling the backlog of patients whose follow-up care was delayed. Some patients are a little reluctant to come back to the hospital, but the majority are heeding the warnings and ready to be seen by their care team at the hospital.
The hospital staff is also ready to get back to business. Jen said they were supposed to be fully operational from the new cancer center by now, but those plans have temporarily been put on hold to focus on the immediate concern. “Right now, we need to be there for the community. We will move into the new facility when it makes sense.”
One thing is for certain, Jen could not be prouder of her fellow healthcare workers and the entire Fauquier Health team. “Our staff has been so wonderful,” she said. “We’ve had to reallocate resources and do a lot of cross-training. Everyone has put themselves to good use and is very conscientious of budget and time.”
Things may be a bit uncertain right now, but Jen knows we will get through this. She acknowledges that everyone has stepped up during the crisis and remained laser-focused on providing the best care to lung cancer patients no matter what happens.
Thank you for being a Patient Champion, Jen. We are proud of you and the important work you do every day for Essential Patients.