Behind the Scenes: House Supervisors

Vicky Machorro

We recently sat down with CNO Vicky Machorro to learn more about House Supervisors at KVH Hospital. 

What exactly is a house supervisor?
The main role of a house supervisor is to ensure patients have adequate care coverage by coordinating staffing, while monitoring the flow of patients in and out of the hospital. That also includes managing employee injuries and sick calls, and even managing visitors at times.

During the day shift, the house supervisor works in collaboration with department directors. At night and off-shift/holidays, house supervisors also take on an administrator role.

When we hear a “Code Blue” or “Rapid Response” call overhead, what does that mean for the house supervisor?
The house supervisor is expected to responds to every code called at the hospital. They ensure we’ve got adequate people that can handle the situation. Sometimes they delegate tasks, depending on the code. They also set up staffing for code response, which means at the end of each shift, house supervisors assign staff to respond to codes for the next shift.

What kind of qualifications are needed to be a house supervisor?
You have to be a registered nurse, and stay up to date on certifications including Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support, Pediatric Advanced Life Support, and Basic Life Support. You also have trauma education, and neonatal resuscitation certification. Bottom line, house supervisors are expected to be able to perform to some extent in any clinical area.

What’s challenging about being a house supervisor?
It’s a multifaceted role. Boss, customer, supervisor, mediator – so you have to be able to adjust to all the different hats you may wear. And in that position they take on a large amount of responsibility, which means having broad shoulders when something doesn’t go as expected or people are discontented.

You have to be very diplomatic, you have to listen, you have to allow people to vent – and sometimes that’s all you do is listen, because you don’t have a solution. There are times when you just roll up your sleeves and get to work in uncomfortable situations. It’s part of the job.

What’s rewarding about the position?
Every day is a new day. Nothing is the same two days in a row. There are always new challenges.

What would you pack in a House Supervisor “go bag” to get through the day?
Food. A lot of times house supervisors don’t get lunch if things get busy at mealtime. Keep snacks handy to eat when you’re hungry. And I’m sorry, but sometimes it’s challenging to get to the bathroom during busy times. Or you have your phone on you but you miss calls.

You learn to be prepared and aware to take care of your daily needs as best you can. Because you’re also in a counseling type role, you need good coping skills to manage your own emotions while being there for patients and colleagues throughout the day.

We support each other, like when someone needs time to recover after a tough situation. It’s a little more challenging after hours or on weekends, but there are resources and we do back each other up.

Is it true that one of your crew also enjoys decking out the office for holidays?
Yes – and that’s great for our morale! Valentine’s Day is coming, so I’m sure we’ll see those decorations in the next week or so.

What’s it like, being the house supervisors’ supervisor?
Oh, wow. They’re a great bunch. This group has been consistent for quite some time. We haven’t had a lot of new people, so that’s good. They love what they do, they enjoy it, they’re professional, they’re very competent. And they know when to call to me about something – that’s so reassuring to me.

Did you ever do work as a house supervisor?
Yes, I did it for four years! It was my most favorite job, because you had your finger in everything. You got to know the staff. And every day is a new day.