WOC Nurses to the Rescue in Acute Care Hospitals

Do those scrubs come with a cape?

Caring for patients and protecting their skin integrity are entries straight off the WOC nurse’s job description.

Skin. The largest organ system in the human body and arguably the most important. While a person can live without some organs, the skin is non-negotiable. And caring for something this valuable is not a job for just anyone. Enter the WOC Nurse!

Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing originated in 1958 as Enterostomal Therapists (ETs) focusing primarily on rehabilitating ostomy patients. Wound and continence care were added to the title in 1992 and the field has grown exponentially since. Fast forward to 2021 and the WOC Nurse is wearing numerous hats and juggling responsibilities like a superhero. Caregiver to the patients. Skin champions and educators for clinicians not versed in wound care. Caregivers to the caregivers who, a year ago, would never have dreamed that they’d be prime targets for device-related pressure injuries. All in a day’s work!

Skin to Win
Clearly in the last year and a half, COVID patients were top priority. But the conditions that put patients at a higher risk for COVID – diabetes, obesity, age – were the same risk factors for pressure injuries. WOC nurses could not let down their guards. Wounds were popping up more frequently on patient’s faces, ears, shoulders and knees, making long days longer. But the show must go on and protecting patient’s skin was not optional. WOC nurses everywhere stepped in and stepped up to the challenge.

The Skinny on Skin
Effectively treating and discharging COVID patients quickly was critical when hospitals were bursting at the seams. But sending them home with hospital acquired pressure injuries just wouldn’t fly. Moreover, studies have proven that HAPIs actually extend hospital stays. WOC Nurses had to be heard! Aside from the day-to-day feats they faced, they also had to educate staff not typically tasked with wound care. And in such trying times, it often required unyielding perseverance to truly change the mindset. Superhuman resilience.

Saving Our Skin
Caring for patients and protecting their skin integrity are entries straight off the WOC nurse’s job description. But what happens when the patient is their colleague? Facial pressure injuries caused by extended mask use was on the upswing. And, just like that the WOC Nurses patient base doubled. The conundrum was how to protect the clinician’s skin while not jeopardizing the effectives of the mask. But, where there’s a will there’s a way and WOC nurses, coast to coast, hurdled obstacles like champs. New protocols to ensure healthy skin under masks were born out of necessity. Experience and ingenuity for the win.

All For One and One For All
Let’s face it. Healthcare workers as a whole rallied in the midst of adversity. They ran, headfirst into the chaos without hesitation and for that, we offer our sincere gratitude. And for the WOC nurses near and dear to our hearts, EHOB salutes you! While the device industry and medical products at large can certainly help the cause, nothing takes the place of good nursing care. Thank you!

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7297069/
https://www.ajmc.com/view/the-art-and-science-of-wound-care-nursing
https://www.wocncb.org/about-us/history
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2020/11/18/covid-19-risk-bedsores-pressure-injuries-higher-during-pandemic/6277376002/
https://www.o-wm.com/article/pressure-ulcers-united-states-inpatient-population-2008-2012-results-retrospective#:~:text=A%209%2Dyear%2C%20prospective%20observational,admission%2C%20gender%2C%20and%20age