Article originally published by Mason's Alumni Association.
As the clinical operations director of enVision TeleICU at Inova Health Systems, Theresa Davis, BSN ’98, MSN Nursing Administration ’02, PhD Nursing ’13, has been incredibly busy since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. She leads the telemedicine division that supports the intensive care units across the Inova hospital system. Since last March, the ICU has grown from 61 beds to 102 beds as patient acuity increased and more resources were needed. Davis’ unit also became a transfer center to move patients across the hospital system as the need arose.
Davis has been a nurse for over thirty-five years. She earned her associate’s degree from Northern Virginia Community College before transferring to George Mason University, where she has earned her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, and the combination of working and learning throughout her career has been invaluable. Before the pandemic, Davis even taught classes on organizational learning and nursing informatics as an adjunct professor.
“I think being in school for a good part of my career has made my whole nursing experience very enriching because I love to learn, and it has allowed me to have a different way of looking at things and not get too focused in one area,” Davis said. “I grew up as a trauma nurse and I’ve been working in telemedicine for sixteen years. It’s been a very exciting adventure.”
Over the last year, hospital visitor guidelines became more restrictive due to COVID-19, making it difficult for family members to be at the bedside with their loved ones. This made the use of voice and video technology an essential capability. Over 1,000 iPads—some provided through donations to Inova—have been distributed across the Inova hospital system to support technology needs to bring families together.
“We connected families to their loved ones and clinicians to patients,” said Davis. “It was just incredible what you could do with the technology to create those connections.”
In addition to her role at Inova, Davis also had the opportunity to speak at the White House in March 2020 as a representative for the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, where she is on the board of directors. Davis sat across the table from President Trump and Vice President Pence, where she had the opportunity to brief the Coronavirus Task Force and answer questions about the issues nurses were facing in the early days of the pandemic. After the meeting, President Trump signed an executive order that invoked the Defense Production Act to expedite the production of critical medical supplies.
A year later, as the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues, Davis looks to the future with hope. The pandemic has changed how she sees the world—after such a turbulent year, it will take time to fully heal and become whole again, but she sees it as a chance to learn and grow as we enter our new normal. One way Davis plans to do this is by promoting diversity and working towards eliminating disparities and unconscious bias in healthcare. Inova has created many opportunities for this important work.
“I think that we have great opportunity to look at our future and the new world and what it should look like, and what we’ve learned,” said Davis. “We have to make sure all patients receive the care that they need, no matter who they are or where they come from. We have to think strongly about what we’ve just gone through and how we can create a better world for everybody. We will get through this!”
Written By: Kristen Greiner, MFA ’20