Gina Covino puts her heart into every part of her job.

After working as a registered nurse, Covino found a calling in supporting other nurses. Today, she is clinical lead at Regional Hospital of Scranton, where she assumes the roles of nurse and nurse manager, “taking care of the nurses who are taking care of the patients,” she said.

Covino — who lives in Pocono Lake, Monroe County, with her husband, Steven; two daughters Emma, 11, and Avery, 9; their dog, Gus; and two cats, Ponyo and Lucky — works in the hospital’s telemetry unit, which cares for patients with cardiac issues such as heart failure and heart attacks and keeps a close eye on their vital signs.

She traces her desire to become a nurse to when she was a child and her mother was in the hospital. She was in awe of the great care the nurses gave to her mother and the family in general and wanted to grow up to do the same thing.

“They were our lifelines,” Covino said. “Any issue going on with my mother, they were the ones who picked it up. They were the ones who alerted the physicians, and ultimately, they were the ones who got her the care she needed.”

Not long after seeing those nurses at work, Covino discovered an interest in cardiology, which helped her hone in on the area of health care she saw herself working in. She attended Luzerne County College and earned an associate degree in nursing in 2013. Then, she worked as a registered nurse at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital.

In 2018, she was promoted to clinical lead. After the grueling hours she endured during her nursing career, Covino found joy in her new role. It was a way to support hardworking nurses who needed it the most.

“As nurses, we take care of the patients 24/7. The doctors see the patients for five minutes, but for the other 23 hours and 55 minutes, you’re in the hands of nursing. So I wanted to take care of the nurses taking care of the people,” Covino said.

Six months later, after earning a bachelor’s degree in management from Capella University, Covino transferred to Regional Hospital of Scranton to focus on her interest in telemetry.

Covino’s staff keeps her motivated to keep going, especially when times get tough. This year, during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Covino faced some of the hardest days of her career. However, her passion drives her to provide her patients with the best possible care.

“We’ve seen patients sicker than we could have ever imagined with COVID, and (nurses) come every day with smiles on their faces and take care of these patients with the utmost compassion,” she said. “I want to be there for them. I want to support them.”

Covino loves seeing the staff grow and collaborating with them in order to improve as a unit. One way they’ve done this is by performing transcatheter aortic valve replacements, or TAVRs, a minimally invasive procedure, in which a new valve is inserted without removing the old, damaged valve. This is ideal for patients who have narrowed aortic valves that prevent them from living comfortably. Covino said Regional Hospital of Scranton is one of the few hospitals in the area that uses TAVRs. It has drastically changed the way staff can treat patients who are in need of valve replacements but may be too high-risk for open-heart surgery.

“When I first came here, those patients were going to the ICU. They did nothing around the house because they were so short of breath and weak,” Covino said. “They get this procedure done, the next day even, they’re feeling 100 times better. They’re accomplishing things they couldn’t do prior to the procedure. It definitely validates what I’m doing every day.”

Covino aims to keep making a difference in patients’ lives, not only through state-of-the-art procedures like TAVRs but also by empowering patients with knowledge.

“I want them to be educated on their condition to prevent it from happening again,” she said. “We want them to be aware of the signs and symptoms of a stroke and heart attack. As much as we enjoy having patients, we don’t want them to come back, you know?”

Seeing a patient recover is one part of her job Covino enjoys the most.

“I love seeing them on admission and getting to know them and then seeing them on discharge where they’re feeling 100 times better,” Covino added. “They’re breathing better, they’re pain-free, and they have this new lease on life. It’s just amazing to be part of that.”

Aside from juggling her duties at the hospital and at home, Covino plans on sharpening her leadership skills and further pushing forward in her career. She will head back to school to pursue a master’s degree in management after the birth of her third child in July.

As far as her team goes, Covino continues to foster an environment of mutual learning and growth. As their clinical lead, she is technically their boss, she said, but there’s more to it than that. They’re all professionals with the same goal in mind, and she and her team thrive on learning from each other.

Most importantly, supporting her team and caring for the nurses remains Covino’s main goal. This way, they can continue to make a difference not only in the unit and hospital but also in the lives of the patients they care for.

“The ability to see them rise in a crisis situation, literally do compressions, save a life and then go back to their regular schedule is amazing,” she said. “They don’t see themselves like I see them, but they’re heroes. I can’t express it enough. They’re just the greatest people I’ve ever worked with in my lifetime.”

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