Before the coronavirus pandemic, Josh Moran worked as a nurse in Owensboro Health Regional Hospital’s cardiac cath lab.

But last month, the health system followed Gov. Andy Beshear’s order to postpone elective surgeries in an effort to free up doctors and nurses to fight the virus. Without as much work in the cath lab, Moran was among the health system’s professionals whose jobs were reassigned.

Moran is one of 14 nurses at OHRH now dubbed as “patient experience champions.”

The need for such a job title came after the health system clamped down on hospital visitation to prevent the spread of the virus among staff, visitors and patients. While stricter visitation policies work well for patient safety, they have unintended consequences.

“We left our patients without their support systems,” said Shannon Parharm, director of patient experience. “We were very concerned about our patients’ emotional well-being.”

As patient experience champions, Moran and other nurses make rounds with the same patients every day. They reach out to patients’ family members to provide updates on care.

Also, these nurses pull up a chair and talk about recipes, gardening, grandbabies and anything else that puts patients at ease.

“It’s been quite the experience,” Moran said. “I like to think it’s therapeutic for the patient. You can see their moods change.”

He remembers one patient in particular.

When Moran walked in Teresa Hoople’s room, he knew she was stressed.

Moran asked how he could help.

Hoople, who was hospitalized for blood clots in her legs and right lung, burst into tears.

She explained her sister had died in a nursing home the night before. From Hoople’s hospital bed, she was trying to make funeral arrangements.

Using his cell phone, Moran pulled up Google and priced out services. With his help, Hoople completed the task in two hours.

“He’s my guardian angel,” Hoople said. “He showed up at the most perfect time.”

None of the nurse companions sit with COVID-19 patients.

While Moran works as a patient companion, other reassigned OH employees take fellow workers’ temperatures before they enter buildings, act as floaters in the emergency department and serve as couriers, to name a few jobs.

Hoople, who has been in OHRH about two weeks, is the last member of her family, so she doesn’t have visitors. Moran is a blessing, she said. “It’s just nice to see a smiling face when Josh opens the door.”

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, rbeasleyjones@messenger-inquirer.com

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, rbeasleyjones@messenger-inquirer.com

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