The Healthcare Executive Forum (HEF) of Western New York is very proud to recognize and award the following amazing individual as a “WNY Frontline Hero.”
Carol Czuprynski: The Calm in a COVID Storm
When first speaking with Carol Czuprynski, a registered psychiatric nurse on the Admissions team at BryLin Behavioral Health System, WNY’s premier place to help patients facing mental health challenges, one gets the feeling that this she is a master of staying calm in the storm that COVID has kicked up. She seems to have seen everything. You just know that next to nothing phases her or keeps her from helping those most in need of emotional comfort. Having served at BryLin initially as Charge Nurse in the adult unit, prior to moving to the Admissions department for almost 14 years as the main day shift admissions nurse triaging new patients, Carol seems to be that kind of person mentioned when people use terms like ‘bedrock of the organization.’ When discussing how to initially care for patients in various states of mental distress, Carol makes it sound easy saying, “I try to get them in, I request help if needed, and if I can’t get them the help they need here, I arrange to send them on to one of our partners.”
Carol admits, however, that the Coronavirus pandemic has presented a range of new challenges. She says, “The impact of COVID is quite different on us from when we were just processing and admitting patients normally. Now we need to keep up with all the CDC, state, and local guidelines. We are using a screening tool developed by my office that has helped to keep people safe while also helping COVID-positive individuals get the care they need. It’s all different now.” Carol’s work at the front lines has helped to ensure that, for an organization as big as BryLin, they have somehow managed to keep COVID out of their hospital.
“We have a lot of stressed out patients dealing with isolation. You have to be supportive and talk with them, and most importantly give them hope”
“We have a lot of stressed out patients dealing with isolation. You have to be supportive and talk with them, and most importantly give them hope,” says Carol. “There are individuals who are quite lonely. With everyone wearing masks, it can difficult to understand their facial expressions and share emotions. So I do everything I can to give each of them our very best, so that they do have some hope to make it through. Our motto at BryLin is ‘with help, there’s hope,’ and there is no more important time to stress that message to our patients and community than right now, during this pandemic,” she says.
Like others in her position at the front lines, Carol is incredibly complementary of others fighting alongside her. She says, “BryLin management has been great! They implemented an excellent workflow, got PPE supply to everyone, and from the very beginning our leadership called everyone in to explain the process, being very supportive all along the way.”
“Helping people in need has always been my passion. It just has! I just love being in the position I am in. I really enjoy it.”
You can hear a hint of pride within Carol’s steadfast manner when asked about how her healthcare journey all started. Carol says, “Helping people in need has always been my passion. It just has! I just love being in the position I am in. I really enjoy it.” She also notes that now is the time to really think about how we can better serve those with mental health challenges. “I think there has not been enough focus on mental health up to now, but there has always been a great need. When I got to BryLin, I realized how many people need help. When I joined, the whole topic was a stigma, but now people are coming out talking about everything, and we are helping them,” says Carol, who seems ready in a moment’s notice to share all her years of experience with anyone else who wants to help.
When reflecting on what has made her last so long in what must be one of the most difficult jobs on the planet, Carol explains, “Brylin has employees that are the most compassionate anywhere. It is a really great team. I think teamwork is really important in doing what we do, and we really are a great team.”
Carol also has praise for others in leadership and on the front lines fighting COVID, both in healthcare facilities and beyond. She says, “I appreciate how supportive and caring the local and state governments have been. They have really been working hard to stop COVID, and doing a tremendous job in not letting it get out of control. What I feel in WNY is that everyone is together on this. You can see it in the community most people wearing the mask and social distancing. Wester New Yorkers are all supporting each other. We must stay strong and be vigilant to make it through.” Hearing Carol say it, you just know we will.