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Spotlight on Shakyryn Napier for Women's History Month

Shakyryn Napier, DHSc, RN, CPN, NEA-BC, always knew she wanted to care for others, so nursing is a perfect fit for her. For nearly 15 years, she has served in various leadership roles at Cook Children’s Medical Center.

“I started as a night manager on the inpatient Surgical/Trauma unit and the rest is history,” Shakyryn said. 

Soon after joining Cook Children’s, Shakyryn finished her master’s degree and in 2014 earned her doctoral degree. As a nursing director for the past eight years, she has always strived for her team to be happy, healthy and psychologically safe. That proved to be a challenge after the sudden transformation of her unit due to the pandemic.  

“As soon as I found out our unit would change from Renal/GI to COVID-19, I immediately let my managers know before scheduling an impromptu staff meeting. Our goal was to slowly roll it out, but that evening we received our first patient with COVID-19.”

Nearly every process would be different. Shakyryn began educating the team on new ways to manage labs, dietary needs and nursing protocols and how to stay safe by using PPE. Conferences with the administration became a regular occurrence, and medical director of Infectious Diseases, Suzanne Whitworth, M.D., made many rounds. Shakyryn said the managers stepped up during such a difficult time and seeing everyone give 100% was a motivating factor for her. She put on her scrubs and joined the bedside nurses to show support.

A room on the unit turned into “COVID alley” – a place of respite with candy, décor and puzzles. The community sent gifts and snacks which helped to lift spirits on particularly rough days.

“As time went on and COVID-19 hit hard, staffing and keeping the morale up for bedside nurses became challenging. I had a lot of conversations with nurses to help them keep going. At that point, it was a lot of reassuring, dispelling myths and answering the question on everyone’s mind – when is this going to end?”

Now Shakyryn has the answer to that question – a few weeks ago, her unit changed back to Renal/GI patients, and everyone is very happy to experience some normalcy. A celebratory pancake breakfast marked the end of COVID-19 on their unit as well as 1,000 days without a central line-associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI). Shakyryn said maintaining CLABSI-free through COVID is an amazing achievement as they cared for many lines and hematology/oncology patients. She is proud of how everyone handled the past two years – unprecedented times that brought many hardships but also changed perspectives.

“COVID let people know that things can change at any moment. It also made people realize that they do have adaptability. Now we all know how strong we really are. We may have had low points, but we rose to the occasion for the kids.”

Spotlight on Shakyryn Napier