Critical care pharmacist shares experience from pandemic frontlines

Melissa Thompson Bastin, PharmD, BCPS

Melissa Thompson Bastin, PharmD, BCPS, is a critical care clinical pharmacist practicing in the medical ICU (MICU). Thompson Bastin has been with UK for almost ten years and is part of the interprofessional healthcare team who takes care of our MICU patients, which includes the COVID-19 positive patients requiring critical care. 

We recently chatted with Thompson Bastin to discuss how our critical care experts are working together and fully prepared for any situation – and what it’s like working on the frontlines of a pandemic.

How have you and your team navigated the current situation? How are you working together?

The pharmacy and physician leadership have been working closely together to ensure we have the right medications available, right protocols in place and that everyone is up to speed on the evolving care recommendations for a COVID-19 patient.

All of the providers in the MICU, from nurses, physicians, respiratory therapists and pharmacists meet every morning to review important updates regarding COVID-19 issues, whether it’s medication shortages or patient flow. It’s a great time to communicate across professional groups.

There’s a really tangible feeling of comradery right now in the unit. People are supporting each other and coming together in ways I haven’t seen, and I think leaning on each other is part of the natural human response to a crisis like this. We have been trained to respond to this type of situation, and we are ready.

Tell us how your team was able to respond so quickly and effectively.

UK immediately and rapidly expanded our ICU capabilities to increase our negative pressure rooms to expand our COVID-19 unit. 

It was tough in the beginning to get accustomed to the PPE and how everyone fit in within our new normal, but now the team is functioning like a well-oiled machine. My role has stayed the same, but there are additional considerations for COVID-19 patients, like clustering medication and using special tubing for our IV medications, which allows the nurse to titrate medications outside the rooms.

What has it been like knowing that you are on the frontlines of a global pandemic?

There is a lot more stress in my everyday life. The best way to describe it is that things feel heavy, but I’m staying healthy by enjoying the beautiful Kentucky spring we’re having – riding my horse, planting my garden and working on projects around the house. 

I’ve found that regular meetings over Zoom with my family, friends and critical care colleagues across the country have been incredible stress relievers. Discussing our shared experience has kept me grounded and is an important part of the healing process from this crisis. I’m thankful for my family and friends who have offered support during this time.

I’m grateful to be working in the state of Kentucky and grateful to be at UK HealthCare during this time. We have incredibly supportive leadership and administrators, and I am so proud to be part of the UK team. 

This content was produced by UK HealthCare Brand Strategy.

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