“The outstanding education at La Roche allowed for a seamless transfer from providing anesthesia care in an operating room to being the primary practitioner to patients in an ICU setting." - Joe Blair '05
Imagine treating patients with a contagious virus in the middle of a convention center where patient rooms lacked walls, ceilings and doors.
This was Joe Blair’s reality on the frontlines in a field hospital at the peak of COVID-19. As one of 27 certified registered nurse anesthetists and as a commander in the U.S. Navy, Mr. Blair provided care to more than 1,100 patients at the Javits New York Medical Station in New York City.
“The virus was everywhere. To protect ourselves, we wore personal protective equipment for 12 hours a day with the inability to remove the protective equipment,” he said.
Mr. Blair and his team functioned as a rapid response team (RRT) and as intensivists in the ICU. The RRT treated all patients requiring a code response, and as intensivists, the CRNAs were responsible for all aspects of the care to critically ill patients. CRNAs supervised the care of ICU registered nurses and staff through orders and interpretation of lab values, X-rays and vital signs. Additionally, they prescribed medications, monitored fluid balance status, intubated and placed central lines.
“Although we all did a superior job, and this was in our scope of practice, some of the routines that became daily occurrences were not in our comfort zone prior to arrival in New York City,” Mr. Blair explained.
Working outside of his comfort zone, he noted, required flexibility and confidence.
“We were needed, and we were flexible,” he said. “We functioned above all expectations and thrived. We needed to fall back on our educations, and to be confident in our knowledge and skills.”
A graduate of La Roche University’s Master of Science in Health Sciences (Nurse Anesthesia) program, Mr. Blair said his education allowed him to thrive in a challenging environment.
“The outstanding education at La Roche allowed for a seamless transfer from providing anesthesia care in an operating room to being the primary practitioner to patients in an ICU setting,” he said.