#OrthoNowOther - Bernice Howell, RN

I have been an orthopaedic nurse for many years but recently transitioned to a new position at our hospital.  As a Hip Fracture Navigator, my role is to oversee the care of patients who sustain hip fractures (mainly fragility fractures) during their hospitalization and follow their treatment path for 90 days, post discharge.  The goal is to ensure that patients receive appropriate follow up in the hopes of minimizing their chance of complications or additional fractures.  This is a brand new position at my institution, which has been even more valuable than expected during the pandemic.  The majority of these patients are quite elderly (80’s-90’s) Many are demented.  Despite the fact that they have experienced a significant, life altering injury, the restrictions surrounding Covid-19 prohibit their families from being at their side.  It is not only devastating for the patient, it is also extremely difficult for the families who feel helpless and disconnected. 


I’ve been instrumental in keeping the families updated during their loved ones  hospital stay, even helping to connect them via phone and face time which has been invaluable.   One little 85 year old demented patient brought tears to  my eyes as I helped her connect with her daughter via face time from her hospital bed. The smile on her face was “priceless” as she chatted about how she hoped to return home soon, asking about things which had been so normal to her prior to her injury.  Having one point of contact to navigate them through the process has been so comforting during these uncertain times. The majority of these patients are in the hospital for 3-5 days which can seem like an eternity without the presence of family.  Once they discharge, mostly to skilled nursing facilities, again the families are not permitted to visit and they have reached out to me on numerous occasions for moral support and reassurance.


I’ve realized, through this process, that nursing is about so much more than physical care.  The emotional support and guidance afforded to these patients and their families, during these unprecedented times, has made a world of difference and offered rewards that money can’t buy!

- Bernice Howell, RN

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