NextGen Neuro’s Leisha Osburn Shares Her COVID-19 Experience

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For nearly forty years, this profession has provided a path for me to support my family and challenge myself through ever-changing growth opportunities. Most importantly, it has given me the opportunity to care for patients and hope that, in some way, I helped them get to a better place in their lives. 

At the end of 2019, with the help of four courageous young ladies, I became a business owner. The goal was to help hospitals (large and small) across the country provide electroencephalography (EEG) and cEEG (continuous EEG) monitoring remotely for their patients, so they can receive the care they need in place, close to the support of their loved ones. 

By March 2020, we had expanded our team to nearly 30 employees, the majority being registered technologists providing patient care for us remotely. As the impact of COVID-19 swept across the U.S., our outward focus on growing patient care partnerships shifted rapidly to the care of our own team members.

Our attention turned to understanding the legislation being passed related to employee leave, so we could develop formal policies around this to let our team know they were protected. As elective procedures slowed down, so did our volumes. As a result, we paid out a one-time bonus for all our PRN technologists, followed by the implementation of a Special Work policy to allow them to work their typical hours through substituting Special Project work (development of study materials for the CLTM).

After the first few months, we began looking to see what services the hospitals were in most need of since many were using their Epilepsy Monitoring Units (EMUs) for COVID-19 patients. Seeing Society recommendations for transitioning less critical EMU patient studies to the outpatient ambulatory EEG setting, we turned to ASET for guidance on PPE, electrode cleaning, room and equipment disinfecting and general sharing of the experiences of technologists in the field. By the time August rolled around, I was very excited to connect with friends through the conference app during the ASET Virtual meeting, and I loved the evening with the Dendrites!

In January, we traveled to a multi-hospital system to onboard some new team members who would be supporting their large in-house Neurodiagnostic team. It was our first business travel since the pandemic hit and well worth the multiple negative COVID-19 tests required to get us all into the state and past the daily hospital checkpoints. We saw and heard firsthand how the pandemic had reshaped so many work processes for the in-house team — all the way from the phone app they logged into each morning to report their temperature and potential symptoms, to the significant efforts they spent to keep themselves and their patients safe, while providing the care they needed.

Now, as Neurodiagnostic Week approaches after a long and trying year, I am so very happy to celebrate this profession that has given me so many incredible opportunities to grow, to know what true support is from my colleagues and to touch people’s lives in such a rewarding way. Each year I see us growing, expanding our roles as new technologies provide new learning and opportunities. I am so thankful for our professional societies as they support us in this growth, offering new courses, new credentials and providing a conduit for the constantly renewing energy from all of you, who make us the great, diverse field of professionals that we are.  

Happy Neurodiagnostic Week, everyone!

Author: Leisha Osburn, MS, MHA, R.EEG/EPT, CLTM, CNIM, DABNM, FASET, FACNS, CEO, Next Gen Neuro, LLC

This guest blog is written as part of ASET’s Neurodiagnostic Week story series that highlights the experience of Neurodiagnostic technologists during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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