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I’m a nurse; but am I a HERO?

By Sara Mosher posted 06-09-2020 16:14

  

On April 13th, 2020, I received notice from our medical director that many of us would immediately begin working from home. The clinic was following Government orders which kept only essential workers on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic. That week was a whirlwind as many of us were carrying out computers, monitors, desk chairs, phones, notebooks and piles of forms and paperwork. Within a few days, many of my coworkers and I were all set up and were officially remote workers.

Initially, I was overwhelmed with the logistics of trying to do my job from home. Not only because I also had to figure out how to be productive while also juggling two young children and their school work, but because it just didn’t feel the same doing my work outside of the office. Yet there wasn’t really enough time to dwell on that as my work load was busier than ever. You see, I am a Care Coordination Nurse. I assist the care team with the most medically and socially complex patients. I provide information for housing stability, financial support, food resources, transportation, medication authorization, durable medical equipment requests and facilitating specialist appointments out of town in the “big city.” Some days I spend hours collaborating with Child Protective Services to ensure adequate medical care is being provided to high risk patients while other days, I talk through normal newborn care with young new parents who are frightened, exhausted and overwhelmed.

 

My new morning routine was quite lovely. After getting up and seeing my husband off to work, I would brew a hot cup of coffee, sit on the couch wrapped in my favorite blanket, allow myself to enjoy the little bit of peace and quiet I could before I had to wake the kids up and I would watch the news to hear the latest information on the spread of coronavirus. Every news program started with grim statistics, but quickly would switch over to highlighting the HEROS on the front line. Of-course first responders and law enforcement were included (and soon grocery store employees and delivery drivers would be added), but the big news stories focused on nurses and doctors working on the front lines. I would watch the footage of my professional colleagues in full PPE, hear them talk about the extra-long shifts, seeing the facial marks and bruises from not having the luxury of taking face masks on and off for 14+ hours and could hear the pain and suffering they were experiencing even though they never said it out-loud. After hearing the daily headlines, I would head up to my home office, coffee in hand, to start my work day in sweats.

 

Things started to hit close to home when I would browse social media, and many of my friends and co-workers were posting images of themselves on the front line; sharing how they were face-to-face with the war against COVID. Even the nurses caring for infants in the NICU (which is where I have spent the majority of my nursing career), were expressing their struggles of caring for moms who were testing positive and having the added stress of trying to provide psychosocial support to families who were no longer able to visit their baby in the NICU due to very strict visitation policies being implemented within the hospital. These colleagues were putting their health on the line, selflessly caring for their patients and their families while often times being separated from their own, while I was safely at home with my family.

 

I began to experience tremendous guilt. I should be on the front lines! I should be helping patients and their loved ones as they navigate this unimaginable tragedy. I should be there comforting a child whose family can’t. I should be holding the hand of the elderly who are anxious, sick and alone. That’s why I chose the nursing profession! I wanted to care for others, comfort the sick, console the weary and be a light in dark times of others.

 

As the days and weeks have carried on, I grew more and more guilt-ridden as I told myself the story that I wasn’t enough; that I had let my professional colleagues down. This haunted me immensely and I wrestled with feelings of inadequacy every day. But then……… Nurses Day came!

 

I received the most thoughtful package in the mail that day. It was from my nursing manager, the nursing director and the providers of the practice. I also received the most humbling compliments and words of gratitude that I have ever received. Collectively they shared that they were incredibly thankful to have me there during this unprecedented time because I was helping comfort, support and give hope to the families that needed it the most. They were encouraged knowing they had a team mate who was advocating for families and helping meet their needs when their list of needs doubled or tripled in size. They were thankful that despite uncertainty and insecurity every-day they could undoubtedly rely on someone to hold the hands and hearts of our community’s children and their families.

 

That was it. That is what I needed in order to be reminded that I was on the front lines! I may not be face to face with the virus, I may not be witnessing tragedy and death first hand, but I was in the throes of this pandemic. I was helping, I was supporting, and I was making a difference. I was a HERO!

 

With that realization came the desire to share this story and to praise the other nursing Hero’s that I know……. Nursing Leaders! Nursing leadership roles have quite frankly been the most thankless jobs I have ever had. During this global pandemic, I am confident many nursing leaders feel even more unseen, more unheard and more under-appreciated than ever. Yet they will never admit that! They are too busy showing up to work day in and day out and working longer shifts than the staff because they want to be there to support both day and night shift workers. They are too busy managing the schedule, ensuring there is adequate staffing despite sick calls, nurses who need to self-quarantine and others who have to stay home because their household has two essential workers and they have children at home. They are too busy attending multiple meetings a day to hear the constantly changing policies and protocols that impact staff and patients, reading the unending new emails, making sure staff receive adequate breaks, assisting with ordering food so staff can eat despite not being able to leave the unit, working on timecards so staff get paid correctly, talking to upset and frustrated families, collecting requested data and statistics for the quality department, ordering supplies to keep the unit stocked as best as possible, collaborating with fellow leaders at partnering facilities to discuss logistics of possible transports, making emergency plans if an outbreak were to occur in their unit, and trying to keep up with their daily responsibilities of managing a unit. They carry the weight of the stress, exhaustion and fear of everyone they work with and they do their best to mitigate a crisis. They work just as hard, if not harder, than any nurse directly caring for patients.


If you are a nursing leader, please realize that you are not only a HERO, but you are the HERO of HEROS! 

Thank you for your dedication! Thank you for your tireless efforts, your compassion, your security and your exceptional leadership. Thank you for all that you do, and the difference you make each day in the lives of others.

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06-10-2020 00:54

What a great story and it rings true for so many!!!!!  I appreciate you sharing!