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2020 Health Care Champions Nurse: Rachel Kutscher

CoxHealth Medical ICU and Critical Care Unit

Posted online

Rachel Kutscher has stepped up to the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic.

CoxHealth’s medical intensive care unit and critical care unit nurse manager quickly worked to become a COVID-19 expert while consulting with infectious disease specialists near the beginning of the pandemic. It was preparation for a new role: leadership over Cox South’s 51-bed COVID-19 ward that was completed in April after just two weeks of construction.

“Being new to my management role, my perspective was more from that of a bedside ICU nurse,” Kutscher says. “I had to imagine myself in this 51-bed ward … and imagine what all we would need to be successful.”

She kept up to date with her nurses and with current research on the virus, preparing herself for when the unit would be needed.

“Now that patients are in the unit, it is a bittersweet feeling – I am glad that it was ready, and functioning well, but saddened that we are unfortunately seeing such high numbers that there is no plan to close this unit anytime soon,” Kutscher says. “I continue to work alongside my nurses to care for these patients, ensure we are up to date with the current research and continue to adjust our policies for these patients.”

Chastidy Parke, CoxHealth’s administrative director of nursing, said Kutscher took on her new responsibilities with grace during a stressful time, especially considering she had started her current management role a few months prior.

“She didn’t even blink an eye when I told her what I needed from her,” Parke says. “She just jumped in, working hand in hand with the staff and providers to ensure we had a plan that would allow our staff to safely care for this vulnerable population.

“We handed a lot over to a very young leader, who could have easily crumbled under the pressure. But Rachel has risen to each challenge in ways that amaze me.”

Kutscher was prepared for the new work given her experience with vulnerable patients. She first joined the CoxHealth medical ICU and critical care unit in 2016, and was promoted to assistant nurse manager in 2018. She took on her current role in November 2019, and now supervises more than 120 clinical staff in the ICU setting. She also hires and trains employees, conducts performance reviews and coordinates treatment protocols and standards.

“My role greatly impacts the overall picture of health care in the Ozarks,” Kutscher says. “My role is to ensure that patients entering the hospital and coming into the ICU are well cared for during some of the most critical times in their lives, while also ensuring my nurses and staff have everything they need to successfully care for these patients.

“In order to do this successfully, I need to be aware of what is going on in our community and the surrounding communities, stay up to date with the best practices, round on our patients to see what areas we need to improve in and frequently touch base with each nurse to see what they need to be successful at their job.”

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