Image of Professor Hamide Laucer
Alumni Relations Manager Felix Sánchez spoke with Hostos Nursing Professor Hamide Laucer about her work as a certified clinical documentation specialist at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern, NY.
FS: Where are you working, and how has your role there changed?
HL: As a nurse, I work in Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern, NY as a certified clinical documentation specialist. Over the last 4 weeks, the documentation specialist have been working with the Centers for Medicare Services (CMS) to properly "code" the diagnosis based on presenting symptoms, diagnostic tests, and utilization of resources. Basically, I assist the doctors to document correctly so all their work is evident on record and "codes" to a billable diagnoses. COVID-19 has a large spectrum and can present differently on different patients. Doctors from various disciplines were eager to fight COVID-19 but needed assistance translating their hands-on practice/knowledge to the computer documentation system. 
As a professor at Hostos, in addition to quickly getting on a distance learning platform, keeping my students up-to-date with COVID-19 has been my main focus. Nursing students know what's going on, but teaching them what is truly happening on the bedside has been a job in and of itself. Everything we learned about using one set of PPEs for one patient - did not happen in March. Nurse-patient ratios could not be followed. I can honestly say I’ve had double the patient load I had prior to the pandemic. Teaching them that you have to work with what you have to save lives and keep yourself safe became accepted practice. Additionally, most of my students live in the Bronx, and lecture became a place for medical advice for themselves and their families. Hearing my students struggle with themselves or someone in their household testing positive for COVID was heartbreaking. Furthermore, how deaths were initially handled was horrific. Families could not see their loved ones, and when patients passed away, there weren't sufficient resources to help with the grieving and death process that is both respectful and follows cultural/religious practices. 

FS: What are the main lessons our community should learn from the COVID pandemic?

HL: I think the main lessons should be:
  • As we have been directed, practice social distancing, shelter-in, wash hands often, and keep a mask on when outdoors.
  • Maintaining your nutrition by keeping hydrated and doing some form of exercise on a daily basis to keep your body's immune status strong is UNDER-RATED! Stay hydrated all day long; don’t wait until you’re thirsty. Eat nutritious food. Your immune system is your best ally, so keep it well fed and hydrated! During the pandemic, every nurse had their own stock pile of liquids (from orange juice to chicken broth to some home-made potion) to get them through the shift.
  • If you smoke anything, just stop. You leave your lungs susceptible to future failure.
  • Have a primary care doctor so you aren’t limited to urgent care or emergency rooms when you are not well. 
  • Get control of your health issues. if you have diabetes - control it, take your meds, eat the correct foods, learn how to take your blood sugar. If you have high blood pressure- control it, take your meds, eat the correct foods, learn how to take your blood pressure. 
  • A household should have sufficient cleaning materials, soaps, detergents, paper towels and toilet tissue to last for at least 2-3 weeks in the event of a shortage.
FS: What can Hostos students do to stay healthy?
  • Follow official recommendations for social distance, sheltering-in, and wearing masks when you have to go outdoors;
  • Frequently wash hands with soap for 20 seconds;
  • Drink liquids and eat proper meals while at work or school. Drink water or some form of vitamin C all day long; bring your food and liquids to campus. Just because the food availability around Hostos is lacking, it does not mean that you cannot make an effort to find a supermarket and make healthy choices to your meals; obesity has been a common factor in patients who have died from COVID;
  • Hostos has a weight room, cardiac gym, and a pool - make using it a daily part of your work day. If not, go up steps, walk around the C-Building - something to keep the blood circulating and heart pumping - exercise should not be a "when I have time" it should be "it has to be done now" way of thinking.
FS: What is your best advice for up-coming medical/nursing professionals for future pandemics:

  • Take a lead role in alerting your institution about diseases "abroad". Nurses can speak to each other and say, "there is stomach virus spreading in.... so let's start ordering more gloves, IV fluids, etc. to keep on the unit just in case"; although our immediate concern is our assignment with patients for the shift, we are responsible now for what may come, not just what we have. "Stock-piling" needed supplies can prevent the lack of supplies later.
  • Embrace the aspect of a team. Everyone from the food tray deliverers to the doctors are a part of the total care of the patient. Letting everyone in the team know about up-coming health concerns or growing health concerns can help in the planning process for a future pandemic.
  • Hospitals have "code-team" and "brain-alert team", they should now consider having a "pandemic response team". The pandemic response team should be responsible for keeping track of local and global health concerns. Additionally, the pandemic response team should evaluate and coordinate community resources to know how to not only respond appropriately, but keep the masses within a community safe and healthy.