Stories from the Southcoast Frontlines: Dr. Renee Robinson

COVID-19 connections

With strict social distancing measures put in place both in and out of the hospital, this week’s #Southcoast Frontlines Hero, Dr. Renee Robinson, continues to focus on forming strong connections with patients and their families despite the current limitations.

Dr. Renee Robinson is a Hospitalist that cares for admitted patients outside the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). When the COVID-19 pandemic started almost a year ago, she, like many others, had hoped it would end quickly. Meanwhile, cases continued to rise and the pandemic showed no signs of slowing down. Dr. Robinson realized that she needed to shift her approach from crisis management to patient relations and recovery, adapting to the new normal.  

One of Dr. Robinson’s favorite parts of being a Hospitalist is the relationships and connections with her colleagues, fellow physicians, nursing and support staff, her patients, and their families. “I have felt, like everybody has this year, with COVID, forming connections have been missing for so many people,” says Dr. Robinson. “So what I try to bring to my approach to COVID and patients and even some of the staff, is as much of that connection as possible within the limitations.”

Leaning on virtual devices such as donated iPads and her phone, Dr. Robinson is determined to keep that sense of connection going between people during this unprecedented time. For her patients, Dr. Robinson tries her best to bring the little moments to them. Along with the care team, she works with families to have window visits and even virtual birthday parties that are not possible in person right now.

This spring, she brought in decorations to celebrate her patient’s 83rd birthday online with their family. Dr. Robinson pays special attention not only to her patient’s physical needs but their emotional ones as well. Hundreds of video calls between patients and families were made possible due to the teamwork between Dr. Robinson, the COVID nurses and staff, and Palliative Care nurses – turning distressing circumstances into meaningful and profound moments of connection for patients and their loved ones.

“These experiences mean a lot not only to the patients, but to the staff as well,” says Dr. Robinson. “We can feel torn down by COVID-19 and our lack of control; through interjecting a little bit of joy, we can help.” Maintaining such a positive outlook during this unprecedented time can prove to be challenging. Dr. Robinson is thankful that she has such a strong team of nurses and other physicians to rely on.

“I don’t know how any of us could have gotten through the past year on our own,” she says. Looking ahead, she shares the importance of checking in with others and adding important personal touches while her team still works in this continuous fight against COVID-19.

As a healthcare professional, Dr. Robinson sees hope in the vaccine. “I feel it’s not only my responsibility to get vaccinated but to talk with my patients about how important it is for them to be vaccinated. I feel like that has become a big part of my role,” she says.

Thank you, Dr. Robinson!