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Weathering the COVID-19 Storm to Lead Thousands to Recovery – CareOne Chief Clinical Officer, Toya Cornelious

The COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the global population throughout 2020 and 2021 due to the devastating social and economic disruption. Governments imposed restrictions and social distancing orders to break the chain of infection and contain the virus. The pandemic adversely affected the entire world and forced millions into isolation, where they remained separated from their family members, relatives, and friends. However, healthcare professionals faced psychological and emotional trauma as well.   Nurses, physicians, and other healthcare workers had to take more extra precautions than lay persons to prevent infections and protect their patients, families, and others.

The healthcare industry witnessed significant challenges throughout the pandemic due to the overwhelming number of patients and a lack of resources or facilities to care for the infected. Many hospitals, nursing homes, and care facilities created makeshift wards to manage the significant patient load and the preventive measures required to treat COVID-19 patients. Many hospitals and healthcare facilities were working at overcapacity due to the substantial patient load.  CareOne was one of the proactive institutions in the East Coast region that took the initiative of taking patients from other hospitals.

CareOne cared for over 5000 COVID-19 patients with an 85% recovery rate. Cornelious helped to lead the company by providing additional training and dedicated units for the infected individuals early during the pandemic. Nurse leaders played a primary role during the COVID-19 pandemic by creating environments to support patients and their families cope with infections. Nurse leaders like Toya Cornelious were also vital for training nursing staff and implementing guidelines or standards for providing care. The infection risks were significantly higher for elderly patients due to their weak immune systems and inability to take precautionary measures. Many senior residents in nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities require assistance performing mundane tasks. Assisting and offering care to high-dependency patients requires unique skills of specialized and trained geriatric nurses. 

The magnitude of high-dependency patients increased significantly during the pandemic, but the number of specialized nurses did not grow at the same rate, leading to a severe nursing shortage. However, individuals like Toya Cornelious played a vital role in leading thousands to recovery through leadership and dedication. Programs were developed for nurses to train them in caring for COVID-19 patients by observing necessary precautions and following protocols. 

Cornelious joined CareOne after working for ManorCare for eleven years in multiple executive roles. She became the company’s Chief Clinical Officer after serving in several executive positions during her 15-year tenure at the company. 

Toya Cornelious began her career as a nursing assistant and gradually worked her way up. She completed her Bachelor of Science degree from Rutgers College of Nursing in 1994 and worked as a nursing assistant at the Newark Beth Israel Hospital. Cornelious learned the fundamental aspects of the healthcare and nursing profession from her nursing supervisor at the hospital. Toya started working as a school nurse after graduating, entering a saturated market, and searching for employment in the healthcare profession for several months.

Although she worked as a school nurse after graduating, Toya Cornelious found her passion in senior care while working the evening shift at the Woodland Care Center in Camden, New Jersey. Cornelious recently founded Strategic Care Solutions Healthcare Consulting and co-founded The Care Concierge to provide consultancy and guidance to the public regarding senior care placement and care navigation. She offers advice and consultancy to patients and healthcare systems through the two companies for understanding and maneuvering the intricacies of the healthcare system.

Cornelious’ experience as an executive in the post-acute care sector was beneficial for treating COVID-19 patients while keeping a low infection rate among staff members. A considerable amount of post-acute and senior care service delivery involves precautionary measures to prevent infectious diseases. The training and awareness imparted by Cornelious and the CareOne team among nurses and other support staff helped to weather the COVID-19 storm and lead thousands to recovery.

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