Alumni Profile: Rachell Dumas, Superhero ICU Nurse and COVID-19 Educator
Chamberlain University alumna Rachell Dumas and her husband, Monterrio Alexander, are expecting a baby. After a tumultuous year in which Rachell fought for the lives of COVID-19 patients in New York City at the height of the crisis, then fought for her own life after contracting COVID-19 – this is a happy surprise.
“I think [Monterrio] is more excited,” she said. “I’m still in shock. But he is all ‘We need baby names; we should decorate the room in bright colors to stimulate brain development.’”
Despite all the trauma she has seen and experienced, this has not quelled her passion for nursing and educating the community about public health and safety.
Giving Back to the Healthcare Community
After returning from New York City in early June, Rachell founded Onward Healthcare Solutions and Education -- an education and compliance business for small healthcare businesses to prepare procedures and policies to prevent the spread the spread of COVID-19 as they reopen their doors to patients.
Dumas was considered too high risk to return to her job as a trauma ICU nurse due to her asthma and because she had already had COVID-19. She was at a loss for what she could do to Step Forward ® and help her community battle the pandemic.
After having a conversation with her mentor, the idea for Onward Healthcare Solutions was born.
Infection Control to Contain COVID-19
“We talked about infection control,” Dumas told us. “[Being a trauma ICU nurse] I had experience in infection prevention protocols. He reminded me that fighting COVID-19 is personal to me. I know what healthcare professionals are lacking, and what they need to prevent and fight the virus.”
Working late nights, Dumas put her idea into action. She built her website and did the deep research needed to gather all the CDC guidelines, OSHA practices and local government protocols. With the help of her husband, the business was up and running within the month.
The Superhero Nurse’s Origin Story
Rachell Dumas is no stranger to adversity, relocating as a survivor of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, she rebuilt her life in Atlanta. She graduated from Grady High School in 2009. This is where she met her husband.
“We were just buddies then,” Dumas says.
“It wasn’t until 2015 that we started dating, 10 years after we met,” she chuckles. “Then we got married in 2018 at the Dekalb County Courthouse.”
Originally a film and video major at Georgia State, she attributes her career in nursing to an anatomy class that a friend convinced her to take.
“She told me ‘I need someone to study with.’ I needed a science credit, so.... I fell in love. It was very organic and made sense, my Grandmother was a nurse.”
Next, Dumas sought out Chamberlain University's Atlanta campus to complete her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. During her clinicals, she was placed in the trauma ICU at Grady Health Systems. After that, Rachell knew she was meant to be a trauma ICU nurse.
The First Days in the ICU
She describes the challenging first days of her career – fighting for her patients, unable to give up on them until the moment they died or survived and left her care.
“I had an 18-year-old patient,” she tells us, “He came in because his brother had shot him as part of a gang initiation. It was incredibly sad. We were doing everything we knew how to do. Colleagues were suggesting treatments, the family asked for me, so I worked for three days in a row trying to save this boy’s life.’
“On the third day, his mother came to me and asked, ‘Are you doing everything you can?’ I explained yes that I was working hard for her child. She told me ‘Stop working so hard, it’s his time, it’s okay.’” Dumas chokes up, ‘We gathered around him, held his hands and sang his favorite songs as he passed. That has always stuck with me.”
But trauma ICU was not always disappointments, “One time we had a young child come in that was involved in a collision. The statistics on children are not good, [when they enter] trauma ICU, we lose a lot of them. He was in critical condition, and we worked hard for him.’
‘Then a week later, he walked out of the hospital,” Dumas smiles.
All About Onward Healthcare Solutions
It was experiences like these, and those in New York, and her own fight to survive COVID-19 that shaped her desire to help her community prepare and prevent outbreaks of the virus.
“I fought COVID-19 on the front lines,” she says. “Then I fought it for myself. I don’t want anyone to go through what I went through.”
Through comprehensive, researched, constantly updated policies and procedures, she is helping the healthcare community in Atlanta develop strategy and protocol to prevent outbreaks.
“I provide an assessment of the safety and readiness of their business,” she explains. “Then I develop a plan and I teach to that. Many of these facilities have oversaturated roles, they do not have time to keep up they’re extremely grateful to have someone [help them understand] what needs to be done.”
Dumas says patients and colleagues would describe her as “knowledgeable and passionate.”
“I study a lot,” she says. “I will spit statistics and all kinds of knowledge at you. You have a question? I have an answer.”
When asked how she thinks her education at Chamberlain University has impacted her career, she said “Attending Chamberlain was one of the greatest decisions that I have ever made.’
“Had I not chosen them to complete my BSN, I would not have the knowledge, experience, or confidence to become a nurse and to later become a leader within the healthcare field.’
“From the moment that I was accepted, Chamberlain created the village that I never knew that I needed in order to be successful, both in school and even as an alumni. I am so proud to declare that I am a Chamberlain alumna because Onward Healthcare Solutions and Education LLC wouldn’t be possible without them!”
Step Forward® Chamberlain University recognizes alumni as a special type of person – the kind who Steps Forward in times of need, to help and heal. To listen and to lead. That is why Chamberlain University is proud to have supported you in your studies in healthcare, and to remain an ally throughout your career..
For more information about Chamberlain University degrees and programs, please visit Chamberlain.edu