Nurse pitches in to help staff in a time of transition

Published 5:30 pm Thursday, February 3, 2022

When a health system undergoes a major transition, like switching electronic health record (EHR) systems, everyone is affected. Training, technology and teamwork are all vital to success. One nurse at VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital (VCU Health CMH) stepped out of her role to assist another department at a critical phase.

Infection Preventionist Sandra Agostinelli won the December Team Member of the Month award for STAR service. STAR stands for Safety, Teamwork, Accountability and Relationships.

Agostinelli has been a key player in the fight against the pandemic. Joining Infection Prevention one year ago, she’s been the main contact for keeping patients and staff safe. Her official role for the EHR transition was making sure patients in isolation were correctly noted in the new system.

Once that was complete, Agostinelli reported to the command center to see what else she could do. The ICU needed extra help, so Agostinelli stepped in to assist. Having spent 15 years working in the intensive care unit (ICU), she understands the demands of that department.

“Sandra helped support me by transferring medical records, troubleshooting different issues that arose and just generally being present for our organization,” said Samantha Throckmorten in her nomination form. “Her dedication to our team is admirable and I am forever grateful for her.”

Agostinelli has been helping in various departments before and since the transition in early December, on top of her infection prevention duties. When the hospital recently experienced a power outage, she ran upstairs to make sure the ICU back-up generators were working because we had patients on ventilators. They saw her coming and said they were ok.

Agostinelli lives in Meredithville and has worked at VCU Health CMH for eight years. She wants everyone to know that this new variant of COVID-19 is extremely contagious. It is crippling businesses and burdening hospitals, she said, noting that on top of their own responsibilities, nurses are now covering for those out sick.

“It is painful for hospital staff to see people who don’t appreciate the danger of COVID going unmasked in public and putting themselves in a position to infect themselves and others,” she said.

Every unvaccinated patient who can speak before going on a ventilator or passing away is saying, “Tell people to get vaccinated.”

Agostinelli’s motto is, “Don’t Share Air!”

Agostinelli received the STAR service award, STAR pin, a parking tag that allows her to park wherever she wants for the month of January and a $40 gift card.

Other employees nominated in December were Jade Brankley in Labor and Delivery, Mica Craft in Security and Laure Gill in Administrative Representatives.