News | June 04, 2020

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FGCU nursing prof joins front lines fighting COVID-19

6 - minute read

Kelly Goebel sees team members working together to provide best care

[vc_column_text]This spring, when she wasn’t teaching the nurses of tomorrow at Florida Gulf Coast University or working as an acute care nurse practitioner, Dr. Kelly Goebel was supposed to spend four days in Austin, Texas.


An assistant professor in the School of Nursing at FGCU for two years, Goebel was among just 30 nursing faculty from across the United States picked to participate in the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN)-sponsored 2020 AACN-Apple Digital Innovation Bootcamp: From Content to Action.


She was scheduled to spend April 24-27 with colleagues in the Lone Star State learning how to leverage the latest technology to enhance learning in the classroom, laboratory, online and in hospital settings. Goebel was set to engage in sessions on preparing digital content, developing iOS mobile apps and multi-touch books, and creating an engaging learning environment in what the AACN calls a “unique immersion experience.”


But COVID-19 changed Goebel’s plans.


Instead of networking in Texas, she spent her spring doing the noblest work a nurse can do these days:  treating coronavirus victims.


For Goebel — who earned her undergraduate degree at St. Joseph’s College of Nursing in Syracuse, N.Y., her master’s at Loyola University in Chicago and completed her doctoral studies at the University of South Florida — that work is in critical care at Naples Community Hospital.


So instead of getting to learn and share with her FGCU peers and students what she learned about the latest high-tech tricks in nursing, Goebel instead shares her firsthand experiences fighting the pandemic of this generation with readers. Her story — in her words — is the latest in our continuing series on Eagle nursing graduates and faculty who have taken on the COVID-19 emergency at the life-or-death level.


photo shows FGCU nursing professor
“We are also very thankful for the generosity that local community and businesses have provided. It has been unparalleled,” Kelly Goebel says. “It’s nice to know that they are thinking of us and appreciate what we are doing to help the community. Photo: James Greco/FGCU

FGCU360: For you personally, what have been the toughest things to deal with on the job?


KELLY GOEBEL: The toughest thing to deal with has been the inability of patients to have family members with them during their illness. When a patient is diagnosed with COVID-19, family members are not permitted to be at the bedside. Visitation restrictions are difficult as many of our critically ill patients have life-threatening conditions and could really use the support of their family and friends. I don’t think anyone was prepared for how the social disruption would affect critical illness and end-of-life experiences. It certainly isn’t easy for the patient and their family, but neither is it for the nurses providing the care. Nurses are used to doing so much more to help families cope with patients who are acutely ill; it is frustrating, but at the same time, I think we feel honored to be in this position.


FGCU360: What positive developments have you seen?


KELLY GOEBEL: One positive thing to come from this pandemic is the collaboration between all members of the multidisciplinary team. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has come together, and worked very hard at adapting to this shift in practice. We modify our management strategies for COVID-19 as the evidence dictates, creating constant change; however, it also demonstrates how we come together as a profession to provide the best patient care possible.


On a simpler note, we are also very thankful for the generosity that local community and businesses have provided. It has been unparalleled. It’s nice to know that they are thinking of us and appreciate what we are doing to help the community.


FGCU360: In your opinion, what will be the “action items” that have to be addressed after this crisis has passed?


photo shows nurse in protective gear
Goebel geared up to treat COVID-19 patients in critical care at Naples Community Hospital. Photo submitted.

KELLY GOEBEL: There has been a tremendous amount of work done by a large group of professionals to provide comprehensive guidelines for the management of this pandemic. Moving forward, we will need a continual, multidisciplinary approach working collaboratively on policy development, research, evaluation, surveillance and treatment within the hospital systems, the local community as well as our FGCU community. We cannot get complacent.


FGCU360: No one in healthcare at every level – from medical-supply companies to healthcare workers — could have been totally prepared for a pandemic such as this. But in that light, how did your education and experiences at FGCU help you deal with such a crisis?


KELLY GOEBEL: Nurses have the innate ability to be flexible and adaptable to almost any situation that crosses their way. Thirty years of experience as a nurse have taught me that you can always depend on your academic and clinical nursing colleagues for support at any time.


My experiences at FGCU have helped me approach my role in this pandemic both from a clinical perspective as well as an academic perspective. The FGCU nursing faculty have been so supportive of each other and have worked very hard at providing a seamless transition to remote learning for our students. It’s nice to be able to link my clinical experiences to what is taught in the classroom, but even nicer to be surrounded by faculty, staff and leadership who truly care about their students. It is an unprecedented time, but I think we at FGCU have done the best we can in demonstrating the important role that nursing plays in times like these.


  • Read more about Kelly Goebel in this recent newspaper article about regional educators and COVID-19.


FGCU360 would like to hear from any alum or faculty/staff member actively involved in the COVID-19 fight who wishes to share her or his personal story. Contact Keith Gibson, FGCU Marketing and Communications, at [email protected].

  • Previously: Sherri Parmar, nursing graduate working at Gulf Coast Medical Center in Fort Myers


“The economic and health impact our graduates have on not only our local communities but communities all over the United States is impressive. Marieb College and the School of Nursing is a major contributor to the health and welfare of our citizens. As we are now experiencing, health is tied directly to productivity in our economy and to social wellbeing. We are honored to produce nursing and health workforce graduates who are able to protect the health of the public.”

— Ann H. Cary, PhD, MPH, RN, FANP, FAAN
Dean and Professor, Marieb College of Health & Human Services
Chair, Board of Directors, American Association of Colleges of Nursing (2018-20)
Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellow

We are especially proud of our FGCU nursing alumni who are working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response. We know they have outstanding skills and are emerging as leaders in nursing. We admire the resilience, initiative, dedication and fearlessness that set them apart in practice. On behalf of the FGCU School of Nursing faculty, staff and students, I would like to say thank you for your spirit and exceptional nursing care.”

— Anne Nolan, PhD, RN, FACN
Conner Professor in Nursing
Director, School of Nursing
Marieb College of Health & Human Services

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