COVID-19 & Nurse Scientists on the Front Line: Marlon Garzo Saria

Marlon Garzo Saria
Providence Saint John's Health Center

Please describe your work with the COVID-19 pandemic.
I have a dual-hatted role as a nurse scientist and oncology clinical nurse specialist. With the Professional Development (Nursing Education) team, I took on responsibilities to strengthen and sustain our ministry's COVID-19 workforce by supporting (instructor) cross-training and rapid onboarding to med/surg, ED, and ICU for procedural nurses (pre-op, OR, post-op, ambulatory surgery, ambulatory care and clinics). I was tasked to provide information on the "science" of SARS-CoV-2, including epidemiology, modes of transmission, and strategies to prevent the spread of COVID-19. I drew from lessons I learned from my Professional Military Education courses from the Air Force to discuss emergency response and actions to take for the worst case scenario. 

I am also on-call for direct patient care, particularly for any oncology patient who may need systemic treatment during these times. I wear scrubs and am ready to administer chemotherapy for any patient who will need treatment.

Please give us information about your background and history as a nurse scientist.
"I am an oncology nurse providing direct patient care and leadership in professional development, program development and management, and research. I am the clinical nurse specialist and nurse scientist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, an Assistant Professor of Neurosciences and Neurotherapeutics, and Director of the Center for Quality Outcomes and Research at Pacific Neuroscience Institute and John Wayne Cancer Institute. 

I received a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of the Philippines and a Master of Science in Nursing and a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). I received a Master’s in Military Operational Art and Science degree from the Air University, US Air Force. My research interest is grounded on two overlapping themes- the effect of cancer- and cancer-related toxicities on outcomes and the impact of caregiver burden on caregiver well-being, patient health, and healthcare utilization outcomes. My vision is to provide a comprehensive multidisciplinary approach to patient and family care in the oncology setting. In addition to current studies addressing the lack of a structured caregiver assessment and the underutilization of evidence-based resources and programs, my active studies actively explore the role of digital platforms to improve health outcomes.

I am a member of the Brain Cancer Quality of Life Collaborative and was on the team that wrote the proposal “Optimizing Palliative Care for Patients with Brain Cancer & Their Families” funded by the Patient-Centered Outcome Research Institute. Additionally, I am a co-investigator for the community grant that will establish the Los Angeles Cancer Caregiver Consortium.

What else would you like the public to know about your role or the role of nurse scientists in the fight against COVID-19?
When there is a call for all hands on deck, we roll up our sleeves and fight.

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