For some, the call to care for others is a lifelong passion. One such individual is Irene Goliash, RN. Drawing inspiration from a nurturing home environment, including a mother who often cared for family members and an aunt who was a nurse, Irene always knew she wanted to be a caregiver.
She began her journey into healthcare at an early age. A neighbor who recognized Irene’s intrinsic desire to support others suggested she try her hand at a nursing home role, noting that if she could manage that, she could likely handle any challenge a career in nursing might throw at her. And Irene did just that. “Working as a nursing home CNA gave me my start in nursing, which I found deeply rewarding,” she says.
After graduating from Alexandria Hospital School of Nursing, Irene stepped into her first registered nurse role at Washington Hospital Center, a 900+ bed tertiary care facility in D.C. “I started on the medical telemetry floor,” shares Irene. “I always knew I wanted to be in critical care. After gaining experience and becoming comfortable with cardiac rhythms, I moved into the ICU, primarily working in surgical, critical, trauma, neurosurgery, and cardiac surgery care.”
From there, Irene transitioned to a role as a Cardiovascular ICU nurse at Georgetown University Hospital. She spent the next seven years providing comprehensive nursing care, patient education, and discharge planning for cardiovascular surgical patients on a combined ICU/Stepdown unit. During her tenure at Georgetown, Irene served as a charge nurse for the entire unit, acted as a preceptor for nurses during orientation, and developed and implemented a unit-based Peer Review system.
Along the way, Irene’s robust nursing experience attracted the interest of health IT stakeholders. A significant turn in her career came when Irene joined Apache Medical Systems (acquired by Cerner) to oversee the development of clinical end-user training programs. Irene was later recruited by VISICU (acquired by Philips) where she would spend the next 16 years managing the clinical transformation process for clients adopting the eICU program.
Irene’s work and connections eventually led her to Caregility, where she currently serves as a Clinical Program Manager working to alleviate the burdens of bedside teams and ensure a smoother healthcare process for patients through telehealth enablement.
“I know from first-hand experience that sometimes at the bedside you feel like you’re just running around putting out fires,” Irene shares. “It’s easy to get burned out thinking of the list of things you didn’t do. I’m all about helping the bedside team. It’s about alleviating their pain points and making the job more satisfying. Both clinicians and patients should feel the benefit.”
“You can significantly improve patient, family, and staff satisfaction just by shifting clinical workload to someone who has time to devote to the specific activity.”
– Irene Goliash
For those looking to implement a virtual care program, Irene stresses the importance of multidisciplinary involvement. “Pull your direct caregivers into the process from the very beginning,” she advises. “Without their buy-in, no matter how good your program is, it will fail. One of the biggest challenges I’ve seen is when customers think it’s an IT project because of equipment procurement and installation, but it’s not. It truly is a clinical project.” Irene recommends involving clinicians when determining program goals, where to focus, and where you grow from there.
Irene sees tremendous potential in emerging virtual nursing programs. She encourages healthcare organizations exploring the hybrid care model to “start small and take baby steps. You don’t have to come in and save the world. Maybe the best thing I can do as a virtual nurse is record your code for you or do the documentation or page people. Let me do the more mundane things so you can focus on hands-on patient care.”
“All it takes is one big win to prove the value,” Irene elaborates. “This can be particularly beneficial in areas where there is just not enough time to devote to things like patient education. We’re often dinged there by patients and families. Having a remote nurse resource who can teach without interruption is a great way to improve that.”
Irene envisions a future where every care team encompasses both bedside and virtual nurses. “Virtual roles can be a great way to harness the experience of nurses who have the knowledge but may not be physically up to a 12-hour shift, which is harder as you get older, keeping 20 to 30 years of nursing experience in my health system to support my bedside team.”Virtual roles can also be outsourced in rural areas where staffing shortages may leave facilities hard-pressed to pull from existing staff.
Irene’s journey is a testament to the limitless potential and adaptability of nursing. She continues to hone her skills as a member of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses and in her work with ATA developing TeleICU nursing guidelines.
As healthcare pivots to a more integrated approach to virtual care, the experiences and insights of nurse professionals like Irene will continue to illuminate the path to better supporting our patients and bedside teams, retaining experienced clinicians, and innovating care delivery.
Interested in connecting with a Caregility Clinical Program Manager to discuss your hybrid care strategy? Contact us today!