Coronavirus News: Long Island nurses get to know patients who can't speak for themselves due to COVID-19 through storyboards

STONY BROOK, Long Island (WABC) -- Some nurses on Long Island are going to great lengths to get to know their COVID-19 patients who can't speak for themselves.

A new initiative at Stony Brook University Hospital allows families of coronavirus patients to provide pictures and details and important information for storyboards so the staff can get to know the patients who can't communicate themselves.

For example, Jeffery is a paramedic battling COVID-19 and his wife's name is Kimberly who loves listening to heavy metal.

These details were shared with doctors and nurses through the storyboards since they are too sick to share the information themselves.

"Especially when they're in the ICU, they may be sedated or just may not be themselves, you're not getting to full picture of who they are," said nurse Amanda Groveman.

Getting to know patients has also been complicated because visitors are not allowed to visit their loved ones.

But Under the new "My Story" initiative, teams hare now able to make that vital connection with their patients.

Families send the staff personal details which help fill in the blanks.

"I became a nurse because I really do care about people and love talking to people, and so to be able to continue that and get that connection we were missing, it's really meaningful," Groveman said.

The posters are put up inside and outside of a patient's room and include things like nicknames.

"Instead off saying Mr. Jones or Anthony, I can call him Tony or whatever he prefers to be called, it makes us feel like their surrogate family which we're functioning as," nurse Sara Spronz said.

The staff hopes other hospitals pick up on the idea as a way to deliver more personalized care.

"It gives you something to talk about about when you got in the room, sometimes you're like 'how are you feeling today?' Now you can say, y'ou know what I'm a Yankees fan, I bet you cant wait til they get to start playing again,'" Groveman said.

The same program was initially created for patients with Alzheimer's and dementia, where seeing pictures of themselves and their families really made a big difference.

"Although there are a lot of safety measures in place for them and for us, emotional care is very important for healing and the storyboards help us deliver that," Spronz said.

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