Year of the Nurse: The Unflinching Responder
As the battle against Covid-19 rages on, it’s vital to recognize the brave men and women who, every single day, risk their health to protect ours. That’s why Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon is dedicating this special series of articles to eight local and regional nurses who, through their compassion and humanity, have made the difference for thousands of lives.
On the Friday before Memorial Day, as many people across the country gathered for a weekend of barbecuing with family and friends (against the strong advice of medical experts), lead RN Jeff Sogo was at The Vancouver Clinic Ridgefield, administering a wave of Covid-19 tests for employees of a local fruit processing plant.
“Our urgent care clinics were scrambling to get organized with workers walking in for testing,” he recalls. “Many were frightened about the exposures, and some were symptomatic for Covid illness. Due to the large number of workers who would need to be tested—we expected over 180 in all—and not knowing how many were ill with Covid, it became clear that we would need a separate place to evaluate and test them.”
Sogo and his crew stepped up to the task, adapting to challenges as they unfolded. A majority of their patients spoke Spanish, so the team developed pamphlets to describe the nasopharyngeal swab process and home quarantine recommendations, in their own language. The clinic also recruited a Spanish-speaking provider and support staff to communicate and notify patients of their results, which were positive at a very high rate. They then expanded the outreach to include patients’ household members, implementing forms to capture case investigation data and enable contact tracing.
With the support of management’s policy and protocol decisions, and through consistent efforts to keep PPE supplies stocked, Sogo and company were able to achieve a successful response. “I am impressed with the Covid response we have mobilized at Vancouver Clinic, our county, and the state of Washington,” Sogo says. “I believe our communities will continue to see lower-than-average case counts and mortality. At the same time, I do have concerns for the pandemic and how we are managing as a nation. Our national response appears fragmented to me, and the lack of a coordinated response to the recent surge may leave us worse off.”
Sogo’s kids are both adults. Still, he’s apprehensive about schools reopening for in-person instruction too soon this fall, even as he understands that parents will struggle to find child care and student learning will likely suffer. “An effective vaccine will be a game-changer,” he says. “Less politics and more science regarding the need to keep interventions is going to prevent the spread of the disease.”
Before joining The Vancouver Clinic, Sogo was a public health nurse dedicated to communicable disease and tuberculosis control at Clark County Public Health. Prior to that, he earned a living in graphic arts, desktop publishing, and computer systems administration.
Speaking on what called him to change careers in his 40s, Sogo says, “Nursing is a vocation that can make a difference in people’s lives on a very personal level. There is the science and knowledge of the human condition, which we get to learn and appreciate, and there are always lots of problems for my process-oriented brain to work out.” His aptitude for leadership and logistics is a significant boost to safeguarding more easily infected populations and long-term care facilities from Covid.