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A Nurse’s Perspective: Health and Safety Tips During a Pandemic, Ep. 2 of Around Our Home Podcast

A Nurse’s Perspective: Health and Safety Tips During a Pandemic, Ep. 2 of Around Our Home Podcast

Christine Nikolich:
Welcome to Around Our Home podcast, a show about the impact Mercy Home for Boys and Girls has on kids and families in need in the Chicago community. Each episode, you’ll hear informative interviews as well as supportive tips and strategies that you can use in your daily life to become a happier, healthier version of yourself. This is Around Our Home podcast, I’m Christine Nikolich, my guest today is Sarah Juarez, the nurse at Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, Sarah manages our kids’ entire medication system and worked with Mercy Homes contract psychiatrist, acting as an advocate for our kids. She also provides health education and trainings as well as works with our youth, if they have acute injuries or illnesses, Hey Sarah, how’s it going?

Sarah Juarez:
It’s going great, how about you?

Christine Nikolich:
Going good, so how did you come to work at Mercy Home?

Sarah Juarez:
I initially worked for Rush University Medical Center as a community health nurse and Mercy Home reached out to Rush, to develop a partnership, in terms of getting a healthcare professional on the premises and help with implementing some new things and so yeah, that’s how I came to work at Mercy and I was hired at Rush first and then went through Emily Neal in Organizational Development and she brought me on so I’m really happy to be here.

Christine Nikolich:
Can you describe your job at Mercy Home and what it all entails?

Sarah Juarez:
The main reason they brought a nurse in was to help oversee and really manage the whole medication system from start to finish. So I am involved with the initial, like prescribing of medications all the way up until they’re delivered to Mercy Home and then also play a part in overseeing the audits and ensuring that proper documentation is being made, and centered around those medications.

Christine Nikolich:
And what are your some of your typical responsibilities when you’re at Mercy Home?

Sarah Juarez:
I’m involved in working with our psychiatrists, in working with any healthcare professionals outside of Mercy kind of bridging on that and bringing some best practices in that I’ve learned through Rush, I oversee the audits so on a weekly basis, I’m doing something along the lines of checking in meds, ensuring that the meds are correct, following up with any youth that are on meds, making sure they’re not having any adverse reactions, constant communication with one of the therapists and the managers and also the psychiatrist as well, just making sure everybody’s safe and healthy and happy with their regimen.

Christine Nikolich:
What are the differences between working at a place like Mercy Home and working at Rush?

Sarah Juarez:
Not quite a bit different, overall the bottom line is making sure everybody’s safe, making sure everybody’s healthy and has the resources that they need, to kind of meet their healthcare goals overall. But an inpatient nurse is gonna be more hands on, more clinical, assessing care, especially like they’re very important in the treatment and the assessment of a patient coming into the hospital whereas the nurse in a residential facility is more about I feel like it’s more about developing relationships and in getting to know people and kinda bridging that gap, but also there’s a little bit of a clinical side.

Christine Nikolich:
Okay, what made you realize you wanted to work at a place like Mercy Home?

Sarah Juarez:
It’s a really good question, I feel that it kinda came to me, what’s meant to be, is meant to be, and applying for the position through Rush, it was just a blessing that Mercy was looking for a nurse at the time that I was applying.

Christine Nikolich:
When was the moment you realized you wanted to become a nurse?

Sarah Juarez:
I kinda a funny story I think I always knew, even as a as a young kid, my aunt was a nurse and she ironically she worked for Rush as well, she was in labor and delivery and antepartum care.

Christine Nikolich:
Oh, wow.

Sarah Juarez:
Yeah so when she was in her early twenties and she was in nursing school, she lived with my grandma at the time and I spend a lot of time at my grandma’s house when I was younger and I would always help her. I just think it was just always a part of me, it was like innate that I was going to be a nurse, I just, I just knew it at a young age.

Christine Nikolich:
That’s so cool, you knew it so young I feel like that’s really rare for a lot of people to know that young what they wanna do with their life that’s super cool. So do you solely work with our residential kids or do you also work with aftercare members?

Sarah Juarez:
Well, before the whole coronavirus and we kinda had to adjust our workplace, I was mainly working with residential, just really trying to find my legs in that role but I do hope to expand my role and offer some assistance aftercare.

Christine Nikolich:
Has it been hard going back and forth from the West Loop to our girls’ campus, to the Walsh campus?

Sarah Juarez:
No not difficult at all, just trying to make sure that I find equal time to give them, equitable amount of support on both campuses and developing all those relationships and getting to know everyone, there’s a lot of people, a lot of people work for Mercy, a lot of people are involved.

Christine Nikolich:
And what’s it been like forming relationships with the kids?

Sarah Juarez:
It’s great I mean there’s so many different unique stories, and they’re so intelligent a lot of them are really outgoing and have no problem having a conversation, very respectful I think it’s been great getting to know them, I’m blessed in that sense.

Christine Nikolich:
That’s awesome to hear, so what’s something you deal with at work that most people wouldn’t expect?

Sarah Juarez:
Maybe some of the more of the admin things and in the computer system and in going over those audits and documentation, ’cause, kinda sifting through all that data and that information can be time consuming sometimes, so maybe some people don’t realize how detailed I get in that I’m a very detail-oriented person and I love research so I love knowing all the facts so you can kinda get lost in all the data, which is fun.

Christine Nikolich:
Did you have to like kind of create a new system for Mercy Home?

Sarah Juarez:
No the system that was set in place was great, I mean it was a great framework, we ironed out a few different things, but overall Mercy had some great bones, I’m really happy with what I was presented with when I came on.

Christine Nikolich:
That’s good to hear it was seamless so switching gears a little bit to COVID-19 and the coronavirus that we’re dealing with right now, how are you involved in preparing our home to be safe and healthy during the pandemic?

Sarah Juarez:
I guess from the beginning we all were concerned with keeping our youth and our staff, as safe and healthy as possible, at the beginning it was constantly changing rhetoric and things that we were kinda having to do, it was like every week there was something new. So, I guess Mercy Home organized like a Covid team very early on to try and get ahead of the pandemic before it got really bad and which was great, everybody was ready to pitch in and do their best. I guess this included a lot of like best thinking on everybody’s part and some evidence-based tactics, really develop the best plan for Mercy ’cause it’s very unique and so we wanted to create the best plan for our staff and for our youth. A lot of this included disseminating some like best practices out to our staff like about hand hygiene, signs and symptoms of like COVID-19, healthcare resources within the community, implementing some universal masking, extra like hand sanitizing stations. I worked with youth programs, we created designated areas for specific groups of people and developed procedures for the staff and the youth to help guide them in like making the best decisions if they’re coming in contact with COVID-19 and kinda giving them some autonomy in that decision making, facilities was really ready early on, they had all the supplies they needed, plans to disinfect the building and sanitize the building several times a day and keeping it as clean as possible. I worked with Organizational Development Department, we created a lot of COVID-19 specific trainings, and in different like PowerPoints and presentations on keeping the staff up-to-date with any new procedures or any new data that was coming out.

Christine Nikolich:
It’s awesome to hear how quickly you jumped in to just make sure that the kids and co-workers were safe and I really appreciate that.

Sarah Juarez:
Yeah, I think Mercy Home was I think it was a collaborative effort truly and getting everybody on board really early on, so, kudos to the senior leadership at Mercy for recognizing that early on.

Christine Nikolich:
Yeah, I totally agree, so what types of things are you talking to the kids about, like staying healthy, what kind of advice are you giving them?

Sarah Juarez:
Well I think a few important topics that we’ve talked about in the past, even before COVID-19 is sleep hygiene. It’s so important to get a restful night’s sleep and that really helps to decrease the anxieties that come around when you’re dealing with something like COVID-19 or like a pandemic, also healthy snacking throughout the day ’cause you’re at home and so I mean, healthy snacking coupled with like exercise and taking walks, is something that I do try to convey to the kids like how important it is to just get your body moving and it’s also really good for your mental health as well.

Christine Nikolich:
Yeah I mean, I think definitely going on walks has helped save me by working at home. So why do you think it’s important to have a nurse at organizations like Mercy Home?

Sarah Juarez:
I think it’s important to have a nurse or in residential to be a healthcare resource for people, there’s a lot of questions, that I get from a wide range of people, just having an extra resource I think that that helps to put people’s mind at ease than just trying to Google something or try to get ahold of a nurse on call or something like that.

Christine Nikolich:
Yeah, that makes sense, do you have any advice on how people should stay motivated and continue to social distance? ‘Cause I know people are kind of itching to see their friends, see their family, get out and go to restaurants. Yeah, do you have any advice on how people should just stay motivated to stay safe?

Sarah Juarez:
I mean yeah, I think what motivates myself and my family is getting creative with ways to just stay in touch with your friends and family, and having some type of constant communication ’cause we can’t just get out and go to someone’s house and have a regular Sunday dinner or meet that I’m at a restaurant now, but I think it’s getting a little bit more creative, while still maintaining some type of social distance. I know I do a lot of phone calls to friends, a lot of texts and Zoom meetings with family across the United States, just that face-to-face time is helpful.

Christine Nikolich:
Yeah, I think that’s good advice I have a weekly Zoom call with my high school friends, which has been a saving grace for me it’s been really helpful.

Sarah Juarez:
You think people that you haven’t really talked to very much it and now all of a sudden everybody’s home and has a little bit more time on their hands and the ability to jump on a Zoom or a Skype or FaceTime, it’s nice, really it helps bridge the gap and make the time pass by.

Christine Nikolich:
That’s really true it’s something to look forward to, which is nice. Do you have any tips for dealing with stress while working from home?

Sarah Juarez:
I think self-care is so important and I think that even while working from home self-care is very important but take breaks and try to laugh as much as possible, I mean the whole aspect of self-care, really resonates with me because in my line of work, you can’t really help others if you don’t help yourself first, so I think that’s really important and finding what your balance is.

Christine Nikolich:
You kinda touched on this already, but what are some of the most important health lessons to teach our kids right now?

Sarah Juarez:
Really becoming aware of your own physical and mental health and knowing when you’re off that it’s okay to reach out for help. It’s okay to schedule an appointment, whether it’s a telehealth appointment or going to see your doctor, it’s really important to keep those lines of communication open and not be scared to go see your doctor.

Christine Nikolich:
That’s very true, what’s your favorite part about being a nurse?

Sarah Juarez:
Trying to stay grounded in looking at diseases and your health in a more holistic way, at least from my experience trying to stay humble in that in providing the best guidance, but also trying to be, that person that people can call and talk about something or they can trust you. I think that would be developing those relationships and in reaching out to as many people as possible, I think being a people person, that’s important to me so I think those are probably my favorite aspects of being a nurse, the people and helping them.

Christine Nikolich:
Well thanks so much for joining me and thanks for helping keep Mercy Home’s kids and coworkers safe, I really appreciate that.

Sarah Juarez:
Yeah, thank you.

Christine Nikolich:
Thanks for listening to Around Our Home podcast, special thanks to our guest Sarah Juarez for her advice about staying healthy and willingness to share her experience as a nurse at Mercy Home for Boys and Girls. Be sure to visit mercyhome.org/podcast to join the conversation, access the show notes and read more about what’s going on Around Our Home on our blog. Don’t forget to follow us on social media by searching @mercyhome. If you’ve any questions, please email us at info@mercyhome.org please like, subscribe and share this podcast with your colleagues, friends and family. Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, is a solution for kids in crisis and we hope this podcast will motivate you to support our mission. My name is Christine Nikolich, and this is Around Our Home podcast.

Welcome to Around Our Home Podcast, a show about the impact Mercy Home for Boys & Girls has on kids and families in need in the Chicago community. Each episode you’ll hear informative interviews, as well as supportive tips and strategies that you can use in your daily life to become a happier, healthier version of yourself.

#2 – A Nurse’s Perspective: Health and Safety Tips During a Pandemic

In this episode, Christine Nikolich interviews Sarah Juarez, the nurse at Mercy Home for Boys & Girls. Sarah manages our kids’ entire medication system and works with Mercy Home’s contract psychiatrist, acting as an advocate for our kids. She also provides health education and trainings, as well as works with our youth if they have acute injuries or illnesses. In this episode, Sarah talks about ways to stay healthy during a pandemic and gives us an insider look on being a nurse in a residential environment. You’ll also hear us discuss our AfterCare program, which invites all former residents of Mercy Home and their families ongoing support, encouragement, and resources. If you’d like to learn more about both of our campuses you can take a virtual tour.

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