IN CELEBRATION OF NURSES
Who can believe that the World Health Organization (WHO) was being prescient when it proclaimed 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse/Midwife in honor of Florence Nightingales’ 200th birthday? However, unlike Miss Nightingale and her troop of 34 nurses battling typhoid, cholera and unspeakably unsanitary conditions during the Crimean War, today’s nurse warriors are battling an ongoing pandemic on a global stage that includes uncertainty, fear and even hostility.
The armor of today’s nurses is the N95 mask, face shield, gown, gloves and shoe covers we see on every evening news cast. Theses nurses are working tirelessly on the front lines of hospitals, healthcare facilities and makeshift environments. They face uncertain hours, uncertain facts, uncertain supply chains and an uncertain conclusion in addition to ever-changing directives and rapidly evolving routines. The new normal often includes intense and abrupt modifications and specifications to what was brand new as early as last shift including floor designations and arrangements, visitor and other prohibitions and recycling one’s personal protective equipment (PPE’s). This uncertainty has caused understandably mixed feelings. Some nurses and healthcare professionals are choosing to voluntarily isolate themselves from family to avoid bringing their professional risk home to their personal lives. Imagine the emotional and psychological toll this is taking when you must explain to children why they can only FaceTime with Mom or Dad. Add to this the different levels of risk assessment of the severity of the entire situation.
The following are direct quotes from nurses and other healthcare professionals deployed in this pandemic:
“The people who are sick, get sick so fast.”
“Stay safe, learn a hobby and wash your hands.”
“We are all exhausted, probably cried multiple times today and could use the support.”
“The once noisy, busy clinic is now quiet and empty, but my workload has doubled as I’m constantly on the phone…it is mentally and emotionally exhausting.” Jenna, ER Nurse, Seattle
“Other than staying home, I think the average person could help by giving as much encouragement and support to the medical community as they can.”
“It’s all very stressful, but we’re just taking it day by day. The good thing about people in healthcare right now is we all have jobs.” Lindsey, RN in Rhode Island
“I want everyone to just stay positive. This is going to be a long stretch, but we will get through it. We’ll see the other side and stay strong.” Bridget ER Pharmacist, Colorado
“As nurses, we signed up for being there…no matter what.” Kathleen, ICU Nurse, Philadelphia
“This is real and it’s history.” Danielle, Acute Care NP, Cleveland
“Our reality is changing so rapidly-sometimes even hourly.”
“We will do what is needed to get through the battle with as few casualties as possible, we will make it through because of the bravery and dedication to humanity.”
“Our work environment has completely transformed; the energy has totally shifted, and it will only continue to morph.”
And finally, “It’s not about being panicked or hysterical. It’s about being prepared and proactive. You don’t have to hoard toilet paper or clear the grocery stores out to take this seriously. Instead, appreciate the severity of the situation and do what you can to decrease the spread and support those who are fighting it.” Miriam, Critical Care Nurse, NYC
Then there are the images and pictures on the news and social media that are indelibly etched in our minds.
- Nurses holding a sign that reads “We stay at work for you, stay home for us”
- A nurse treating a homeless man on the street in Miami while having the compassion to hold his hand
- Fully gowned and masked healthcare workers in China taking a moment to hug each other
- An exhausted nurse in tears on a break outside the hospital
- Holding a swab through a window at a drive through testing center in Seattle
- Healthcare workers taking temperatures at border crossings
- Bandaged foreheads to prevent chafing from masks or makeshift extenders to protect sensitive ears
- Gowning up before entering an isolation ward
- A ‘Rosie the Riveter’ inspired mural honoring nurses on a wall in Dallas
There are so many more and there will be so many more. In conclusion, one final quote. “She is a fighter and does not take ‘no’ for an answer. If there are no resources available, she will think outside the box and find a solution.” A description of a Nurse Manager by a coworker in the Bay Area of California.
One final image. An ICU nurse with a patient whose family wanted to be bedside but could not be. She put her own cell phone in a plastic bag, dialed the patient’s family with the phone to his ear so they could sing Amazing Grace” to him, while also holding his hand. When asked, she said, “at least we can be with these patients when no one else can.”
Wonder Woman and Superman have nothing on the nurses of today on the front lines of this COVID-19 crisis. Our ‘normal’ has forever changed as it continues to evolve, just as it did when the HIV-AIDS virus first came onto the radar. When this is over will we see parades for first responders and people in scrubs? Or statues dedicated to the same? If not, maybe we should.
NHS Solutions joins the global community in thanking our healthcare workers, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our interim healthcare leaders are out there making a difference in hospitals across the US, risking their own health and sacrificing time with their families as they work remotely with professionalism and dedication.