Employee Spotlight 22 December 2020
Geneva Schueler, RN
Geneva is a nurse on Ivinson's med/surg floor and does discharge and transitional care planning.
When COVID-19 began sweeping through hospitals across the country, Geneva Schueler, a registered nurse on Ivinson’s medical/surgical unit, was brought back in time.
“I worked at Landsthuhl Regional Medical Center, an Army hospital in Germany. I worked during Desert Storm. It kind of reminded me of working COVID and having a full house,” Geneva said. “We literally cleaned house. We sent everybody out and made room for the soldiers that were coming in. So I kind of get that mindset out on the floor, we’ve got all these patients and we have more patients coming.”
Despite the similarities, nothing could have prepared her or her team for the rapidly evolving pandemic that coronavirus brought.
“It’s different,” Geneva said. “But you get the same mindset. You prioritize, you triage, you know that you are going to treat the sickest and you are going to get more.”
Geneva has been part of the Ivinson team for the last 18 years. She is currently one of five nurses that plays a role in discharge planning and transitional care at Ivinson.
“We come up with a discharge plan for folks for that transition for when they are going home,” she explained. “Some people need home health care, they may need to go to an acute rehab unit for more intense therapy, or maybe long term care to get a longer stretch of therapy before they are able to go home. Sometimes, they can’t go home. That’s the hardest thing we have to do, is tell a patient that they are not going to be able to go home. But we always work with the patient to come up with something that is going to work for them.”
Ivinson’s transitional care program came to life a few years ago when a federal grant allowed for additional training for nurses to address hospital readmittance rates. The program focuses on educating patients upon discharge about their medical diagnosis, medications and treatments.
“We do teaching with the groups of people who were more likely to be readmitted to the hospital. You know what diagnosis are more likely to bring patients back and so we focused on those patients to give them the tools they needed to take care of themselves at home.”
Before she was a veteran nurse at Ivinson, Geneva came to know the healthcare system through her various roles and volunteer opportunities. Starting off as a nursing assistant, Geneva worked her way to an LPN and eventually her RN. She worked at a nursing home, she volunteered at a hospice and taught classes at a red cross.
“I worked at a small rural hospital where you do everything,” Geneva said of her time in Idaho at a small 25-bed hospital. “I remember one night we had a code and it wasn’t a very nice code, but by the next morning we were delivering a baby. One nurse doing all of that, that was pretty exciting.”
Curious to see what happens after patients leave the hospital, Geneva got into home healthcare.
“I never got that follow up, I never knew if they were successful at home. So I wanted that experience, so I did home healthcare.”
After learning to travel light for so many years, Geneva found herself where she would eventually call home.
“There is an old saying, home is where the Air Force sends you,” Geneva joked. Her husband was a military man and she credits their lifestyle for getting her into nursing in the first place. When her husband came to Laramie to finish school, Geneva eventually made the move, too and was immediately hired on at Ivinson.
“I really like it here. I like coming to work,” Geneva said. “It’s a challenge every day. You think it would be the same thing after 18 years but we have so many new people here, we’re always changing things up and trying to stay current. We may be a small rural hospital but we really are right on the cutting-edge.”
In the last nine months, Geneva and her teammates on the medical/surgical floor have taken their innovation and creativity to new heights in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The teamwork spans beyond the med/surg floor, since COVID hit, Geneva has had endless thanks for Ivinson’s engineering, dietary and environmental services departments.
“You certainly have a new appreciation for people and their roles,” Geneva said of the workload being shared by everyone. On top of many staff members taking on extra shifts, departments are working together more than ever to ensure patients are receiving world-class care.
“We really pride ourselves as a team,” Geneva said. “We have good team members, a lot of support from management and we try to stay flexible.”
While the shifts may be long and the census may be high, Geneva is reminded of why she loves Laramie and chose to call it home.
“It’s the community,” she said. “Community support has meant a lot to us. From inspirational cards, letters and sidewalk chalk messages to lunches and treats. The kindness and thoughtfulness is especially appreciated on the busy days when we struggle with a high census and sicker patients. We all thank our community for their kind hearts and continued prayers.”
When she’s not working the floor, Geneva enjoys getting into the beautiful Wyoming wilderness. With her two black labs, she enjoys exploring new trails. In the summer, she and her husband have found ways to incorporate more “play” into his work schedule and often make camping trips of his travel throughout the state, plotting new hiking and kayaking destinations.