Lehigh’s partnership with Lehigh Valley Health Network has been an important part of the university’s effort to care for staff and faculty during the pandemic. At the heart of that partnership is our Employee Health Nurse Case Manager, Christine Wolfe, RN.
Even as a child, Christine recognized that caregiving was in her nature. “I have always nurtured God’s creatures,” she said. “I took many other career paths and found a calling when I first became a certified veterinary technician.”
We checked in with Christine to learn more about how caring for animals led her to a nursing career, what exactly an Employee Health Nurse Care Manager at Lehigh Valley Health Network does, and more. This interview was edited for clarity and length.
The Spot (TS): Why did you decide to become a nurse after starting your career as a veterinary technician?
Christine Wolfe RN (CW): I am a caregiver by nature, it’s innate. Health class in school was fascinating to me and encouraged me to read more about the human body. I became intrigued with the natural checks and balances in our bodies and how miraculously our body systems work to give us life. I worked (veterinary) Internal Medicine and Emergency Medicine for over 9 years so the transition to human health/medicine seemed a natural path for me.
TS: How long have you been a nurse?
CW: I started my nursing journey in 2006, then graduated and became licensed in 2008. It is the end of 2021, so I’ve been a nurse for a “lucky 13” years now.
TS: What does a typical day on the job at LVHN look like and how has it changed with COVID?
CW: I describe my job with LVHN as “on the go.” It is not the typical nurse job that most people think of as the traditional bedside nurse in the hospital. Although I have done that, this role fits me best and works for me.
My job with LVHN takes me to various settings. I’m on the move, very mobile. Employer Services is my primary role; therefore, I go where I am needed. This could be a COVID clinic, vaccination clinic, fit testing at an employer site, helping at an urgent care or care on-demand site, or communicating and guiding those who reach out to me regarding COVID issues/questions. Since COVID, my work life seems to revolve around the virus much of the time. COVID is a serious virus, unpredictable, and is not to be taken lightly.
TS: When can/should a Lehigh staff or faculty member reach out to you?
CW: When you find yourself wondering if you have been exposed to COVID, have symptoms of COVID, or are in a situation that leaves you in the dark about COVID, reach out to me because I will help you shed the light on it!
TS: What happens when a Lehigh staff or faculty member contacts you with a COVID concern or question?
CW: When an employee reaches out to me with questions or concerns it is quick and easy to reply back through my email since I may be anywhere when I respond with all the appropriate guidance. Normally, I quickly assess where they are at in the process (is it a true primary contact exposure, how many days have gone by since their last contact, vaccination status, last day on campus, etc.). These questions help me identify where they fall within the protocol and what their next step will be. I might overload you with information, but I like to keep people educated.
TS: What happens when a Lehigh staff or faculty member contacts you to inform you that they have tested positive for COVID?
CW: First, I empathize with them because it’s not news you want to hear. Some people are way ahead of the game and lay out all the information in their email and I just confirm the dates so I can provide their official dates of isolation at home and the actual return to work date back to campus. I will need to know their last day on campus so I can contact trace any primary close contacts at Lehigh.
I remind the employee to stay in contact with me for any status changes or questions. Then comes the clearance letter to return to campus. I send this letter via email, closer to the end date of isolation.
I normally provide a list of protocol and guidelines in my email correspondence, so employees know almost everything up front.
TS: What is the best way for employees to reach you?
CW: The absolute best way to reach me is through my LVHN email: email@example.com This keeps everything in one place and is quick and easy for me to access because I am provided a laptop which is my go-to for my documents. I can also access those work emails from my personal phone and send a quick response when needed.