by James Coburn – Writer/Photographer

Teamwork is what keeps Kelly Genualdi, RN, gratified about her role as clinical advocate with the intermediate step down brain and vascular unit at Mercy Hospital.
“That makes my day a good day. I look forward to coming here every day,” she said. “The attitude is good. The positivity is good. People really do want to learn about Mercy’s culture, and that is to provide excellent care to the patient in a compassionate manner.”
Genualdi graduated from nursing school at the University of Central Oklahoma 15 years ago. Her career has involved other hospitals, but she has a fondness for Mercy.
“I love Mercy’s culture and our mission. I definitely feel at home at Mercy,” Genualdi said. “But my background has been ortho/neuro. That’s where I started out with basic med/surg in an orth/neuro unit. And then I went into ICU. I’ve done neuro clinical education.”
Her position as clinical advocate at Mercy was designed 15 months ago. She was heavily involved with the on-boarding of experienced coworkers. The new registered nurses will go through the learning center, she explained.
“We really try to mentor our nurses coming in to help with retention,” Genualdi said. “Statewide, we know retention in nursing is terrible. Mercy wants to focus on keeping those nurses. We want to grow with them here. So I’m a huge part of that.”
When Genualdi accepted her new role, the turnover rate for her unit was 40 percent, she said. It’s down to 12 percent within a year, she added. Great teamwork helps to make her job easy, she said.
“It helps having a good team. We have a great team,” she said.
Genualdi also does a great volume of auditing to keep up with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services guidelines to keep up with regulations.
“Any type of hospital infections you get all have to be reported now. So we keep track of hospital acquired urinary track infections, hospital acquired blood sugar infections because of the invasive lines we put in people,” she said.
The auditing of nurses and nursing assistants is done to make sure that Mercy is providing its best care for patients.
“So that’s why this role was developed,” she explained. “It’s to make sure we are doing proper care for our patients, so that when they leave here, we haven’t caused them harm.”
Mercy is focused on safety. So the nursing staff goes through a mandatory safety class for everybody to learn about keeping patients safe. This may include the prevention of falls, medication errors and hand hygiene to prevent the transmission of germs or bacteria, Genualdi continued.
She said that she became a nurse because she wanted to see people get better. She has seen people hurt and wants them to recover to wellness.
“It was perfect for me when I did ortho/neuro because you see people come in and they get better and go home in three or four days if it’s an orthopedic surgery,” she said.
Then she challenged herself to a different population of patients in ICU. She learned about another part of nursing that was to help the families cope once they left the hospital with or without their family members.
“But it’s about relationship building whether it be the patients, the families or the staff, Genualdi said. “It all boils down to relationships that you form with people.”
The previous areas of nursing helped her to gain the empathy and understanding needed in her present role, she said.
Otherwise she wouldn’t understand the importance of auditing or have the depth of understanding about safety issues.
“What’s the big picture? Why are we losing these nurses?” she would ask herself when she tended the bedside of patient care.
“You see that on the bedside care of it. In this role you actually get to try and recover those situations and retain those nurses, and find ways to figure out what is going on,” she said. “And I think it’s helped. And it’s helped having great leadership.”
Nurses come to her when their day is stressful. And they talk about it, Genualdi said.
“They are so busy,” she said. “One thing that April and I do very well is we get out there and help them.”
With helping hands she lightens the load. She shows them that she cares and will not sit in her office when they are overwhelmed.
Nurses care for people but they also need to care for themselves. When Genualdi is at home, she is active with her kids, ages 10 and 13.
“I’m usually at their events. They’re extremely busy in activities so we are always on the go,” she said. “Sometimes I feel I don’t have a home because I am never there. But when I leave here and go to family – that’s my stress relief.”