How one Director of Nursing stays positive during the COVID-19 pandemic
Ever since she started her healthcare career, Jennifer Maureen Kalugdan has been a source of strength and positivity. Her advice to other healthcare workers has always been the same: “Don’t give up and do the best that you can.”
Jennifer is the Director of Nursing for a wellness center in Fremont, California. There, she leads her nursing staff to deliver excellent patient care. Jennifer also guides her staff through additional education, training, and skills to boost their experience as Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs).
Part of Jennifer’s daily work is to ensure that all policies and procedures are followed correctly. She meets her goals with the help of a stellar administrative team.
During the current pandemic, Jennifer’s primary goal has been to keep COVID-19 out of her facility. She works hard to support both her staff and the residents of her facility.
These are just a few reasons why we’ve chosen to feature Jennifer Maureen Kalugdan as one of our amazing Healthcare Heroes.
Jennifer Maureen Kalugdan
Director of Nursing in Fremont, CA
Graduate of Unitek College, 2005
What made you choose your current career?
I love to make a difference in people’s lives and help achieve goals. I chose being a nurse for the same reason. I want to be a part of helping people to reach a healthy state of being and feel good once those goals have been achieved.
What are the typical responsibilities for someone in your position?
Being a Director of Nursing comes with a lot of managerial responsibilities. I lead the Nursing staff in delivering excellent quality of patient care as well as ensuring a healthy and efficient work environment. I guide nurses in additional education, training, and skills to add to their experience as Licensed Vocational Nurses.
I also ensure that policies and procedures are followed on a daily basis. With the help of my administrative team, all of these goals can be achieved.
Walk us through a day in your life. What does it look like?
Wow! I will walk you through a busy day. When I walk through the door of the facility, my nurses approach me with updated reports from the night before, which I do appreciate so much. Then, I get ready for my morning meeting with my team to gather updated information for each department and I report the Clinical side of it. This means that I report information on the nursing side, such as changes in condition, incidents that may have happened, and tasks to be done for the day.
I am also involved in care conferences with families to provide updates for the current condition of their loved ones. I answer questions or concerns that they may have as well. Afterward, I go to the nursing staff and check on them to see how they are doing and how I can help them out during the day.
I’m very involved with my wounds in the facility and make sure that we heal them. I make sure that they see me as their leader, but I also want them to see that I am still one of them by being active in providing quality of care to each resident.
CNA’s call me if they need help. Nurses may need me to help convince a resident to take medications. I give full support to my nursing team. I want them to be the best that they can be in the profession that they have chosen, just like me.
How has the pandemic affected your work?
This is one of those situations where I had to step up as both a nurse and a leader for my team. The pandemic changed the whole world. Work wise, we just added more education and training and ensure safe practices, especially when it comes to screening of staff and infection control. We are always proud to say that we are on top of this.
As our Niles Canyon/Hillside team would say: “We will fight this together.” We’ve also had our challenges with staffing, but each department has jumped in and helped whenever tasks need to be done.
What has been the most challenging aspect of your job in recent weeks?
Keeping the COVID19 out of our facility and keeping spirits up with our staff and residents.
What aspects of your healthcare training have prepared you for the current crisis?
Besides the education and training that I received from Unitek College, other training and resources that have helped me include the CDC and Alameda County Department of Health. I am thankful.
What do you appreciate most about your job?
I love being a “Nurse.” I love learning new things in my career. What I appreciate most about my job is that, at one point in time, I know I have made a difference in a person’s life, helping them do things that they thought they never could.
Where do you find the inspiration to endure this difficult period? What’s been your greatest source of strength?
My greatest source of strength is God and, of course, my family. They are my greatest inspiration through good and not so good times.
How do you find balance? What do you do to maintain your composure during stressful moments at work?
By staying positive.
Any words of advice or inspiration you’d like to share with other healthcare workers who may be coping with similar challenges?
Don’t give up and do the best that you can.
What advice would you share with future generations of healthcare professionals?
Be the best you can be. Love what you do. Study well and hands-on training is the best experience.
Is there any advice you’d like to share with the general public?
Be safe always… Love the career you chose in good and bad times…. Never give up!
What other interesting things would you like to share about yourself?
Being a single mom of three made me strive harder and achieve my goals. It was not easy, but I did not give up and just kept going.
I just want to take this opportunity to thank the people who helped me become who I am now. Thank you to God, my parents, my siblings, my partner, children, and grandson. Also, thank you to my classmate in nursing school (Unitek) who never left my side, “Anna Maranon”; my nursing mentors (you all know who you are); and, of course, all my friends.
Thank you so much to Jennifer for sharing her story as she continues to manage her facility and battle COVID-19. We appreciate her tireless efforts as well as the perseverance of so many other healthcare workers across the globe. Throughout history, healthcare and EMS workers have always been the true heroes of our communities.
We’re so thankful for Jennifer’s service. Keep up the great work!