An Effective Problem Solver and and Agent for Change in Cancer Care

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Extraordinary Healer®Extraordinary Healer Vol. 18
Volume 18

Elzbieta Kowalski, M.S.N., RN, CCRN, places service to patients, co-workers and others at the forefront of all her actions and embraces our organization’s service excellence standards.

From left: ELZBIETA KOWALSKI, M.S.N., RN, CCRN, and SUSAN RUX, PH.D., D.N.P., RN, FACHE, NEA-BC, OCN   PHOTOS BY KRISTA PATTON

From left: ELZBIETA KOWALSKI, M.S.N., RN, CCRN, and SUSAN RUX, PH.D., D.N.P., RN, FACHE, NEA-BC, OCN

PHOTOS BY KRISTA PATTON

Elzbieta "Ela" Kowalski, M.S.N., RN, CCRN, is a clinical practice lead (CPL) at Fox Chase Cancer Center, where she serves as a point of contact for numerous clinical stakeholders across our organization and parent health system in terms of critical care. Moreover, Elzbieta is a gifted clinical expert and natural leader who leaves a positive, lasting impression on patients and their families through the compassionate care she facilitates.

Elzbieta cultivates a strong sense of urgency about problem-solving and clinical improvements across Fox Chase, which is reflected in her work on the revision of our code blue/mock code blue policies on the ICU (intensive care unit) Committee. She exhibits strategic agility by connecting their roles, responsibilities and actions to the end goal and vision, and her work has been instrumental in coaching staff to deliver even higher levels of safer, quality care.

In addition, she has worked with a team of colleagues to reimagine the process and design of code carts at Fox Chase. They developed an integrated process for restocking and daily checks of code carts, using off-the-shelf commercial technologies to ensure code carts are always ready for an emergency. The cart project has won numerous awards, and she co-authored an abstract on the topic for the 2022 ANCC (American Nurses Credentialing Center) National Magnet Conference.

Elzbieta is also active on our Nursing Performance Improvement Council and Critical Care Committee, where she leads efforts to lower rates of catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs), central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) and patient falls within the organization. She has worked diligently on creating the audit content to identify appropriate CAUTI, CLABSI or fall prevention bundle items. Since the beginning of the audits, Elzbieta has provided education for nurses in real-time whenever elements needing correction were found.

In addition, Elzbieta has worked closely with Fox Chase’s director of infection control in transition- ing her colleagues to using the new tegaderm chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) dressings for ports and central lines. She spearheaded the initial education about the dressings throughout the inpatient and outpatient areas, remaining available as a resource and the primary contact for the vendor educators on troubleshooting issues with our vulnerable patient population. Due to her diligence, CHG compliance in the ICU was about 90% even prior to the introduction of the CHG automated entry in the electronic medical records, all from the auditing process they initiated.

As part of her patient care practice, Elzbieta always expresses our organization’s commitment to patient safety and infection prevention to patients and their families, which reassures them that we have protocols in place and actively check that those protocols are being followed. As part of her work in helping staff improve their code blue skills, she often brings patients and families into the conversation. In doing so, she actively strengthens awareness and patient satisfaction. They will know that when the Rapid Response Team is called, a true emergency is happening.

Elzbieta has participated in the mentoring and preceptorships of several graduate-level nursing students. As a clinical practice expert, her actions drive quality results, and she continuously seeks feedback from peers and managers to improve quality and service to our communities of interest.

Above all, Elzbieta is eager to listen and learn from others. She appreciates that all of us are smarter than one of us, and finds real opportunities for teamwork. She places service to patients, co-workers and others at the forefront of all her actions and embraces our organization’s service excellence standards.

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