Nurses play a vital role in providing health services, devoting their professional lives to caring for our communities and families. We thank each and every one of these amazing caregivers.
Whether providing lifesaving care to a COVID-19 patient, helping a mom-to-be through delivery, or answering questions for an older adult struggling with their recovery from substance use, nurses have become ever more essential to healthcare since the time of Florence Nightingale, whose 200th birthday served as the impetus for the World Health Organization to designate 2020 as The Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.
It rings especially true in this unprecedented time, when more than 22,000 UHS nurses are doing amazing work as we navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic. The current crisis has highlighted again the imagination, skill and compassion they bring to the job every day. Marvin G. Pember and Matt Peterson, the Presidents of the Acute Care and Behavioral Health divisions, respectively, expressed their appreciation in this video.
In this spirit, we hold up and thank each and every one of these caregivers, while sharing these illustrative stories.
Delivering dad to a special moment
Restrictions at Wellington Regional Medical Center kept Zach Threlkeld from being present in the operating room when his wife Amanda was delivering their son via Caesarean section, when nurse anesthetist Robert Stroud, CRNA, suggested connecting him from the birthing suite through FaceTime. “I was very happy that he was able to actually do it and let Zach be there the entire time throughout the entire surgery,” said Amanda.
“I was able to give Amanda some encouragement through the phone and Mr. Stroud was able to point the phone at Amanda where I could speak with her,” Zach said. “We thought it was extraordinary that he would understand our feelings and emotions and be sympathetic.”
Stroud comes from a family of nurse anesthetists. His mother and several cousins are CRNAs. He is also the dad of two teen girls. Zach Threlkeld says he treasured the opportunity to witness the birth of his son, William Case, who weighed 9 lbs., 13 oz. “It meant a lot to us,” he said.
Experience and compassion
Kathy B., RN, has the steadiness and resilience of experience. She has worked in healthcare for more than four decades, in critical and acute care, oncology, pediatrics, emergency medicine and now psychiatric nursing. She is currently on the staff at Fuller Hospital, a behavioral health facility in Attleboro, Mass., where her compassionate care and willingness to step up during the COVID-19 pandemic have both been lauded by colleagues.
Nursing is a family passion for Kathy, who follows in the footsteps of her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. The words she sets her professional life by come from a surprising source, John Lennon: “There are no problems, only solutions.”
Honoring a Fallen Vet
Marc Kagan is a retired flight nurse for the U.S. Air Force Reserve who now serves as a cardiac catheterization lab nurse at Manatee Memorial Hospital. When he found out that a patient who had succumbed to the virus was a fellow veteran, his response was immediate and heartfelt. “I decided to give him a salute,” Kagan said.
The image of Kagan saluting the fallen veteran went viral on social media, touching the hearts of thousands. Kagan has since donated his military flag to the hospital, to be used if other veterans are lost to COVID-19 there. It is a burial flag, folded into a triangle, in accordance with U.S. Armed Forces tradition. “Wouldn’t it be respectful if we could take the flag, place it over the stretcher, and bring the patient to the morgue with military respects and honor?” he said.
Helping in NYC
Cabrina Bunn had been a nurse at Northern Nevada Medical Center for three years when, a month ago, she approached her boss and asked for temporary leave. Her destination: New York City, to serve as a paid crisis nurse. The decision was difficult, she said, as she had to leave her husband (a first responder) and two teenage daughters, but she felt compelled.
"It’s been weighing on my mind. [Medical professionals in New York] are exhausted and depleted and they are at capacity when it comes to providing patient care,” Bunn told the Reno Gazette Journal. "I feel like I need to be doing more, I feel like I need to have more of an impact.”
C.B. Ingham, Chief Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center, also traveled to a hospital in Manhattan to help.
“With anesthesia, we’re kind of the last people who talk to patients before they go to sleep,” Ingham said. This took on added meaning, as visitation restrictions kept loved ones at a distance. “We were the families for these patients,” said Ingham, who has returned home in Enid, Oklahoma.
Other UHS nurses, from acute care and behavioral health facilities across the country, have volunteered to help in New York City, the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis in the United States. We support and commend their commitment to helping others in the most challenging circumstances.
"Look outside the box"
Sometimes, Palmdale Regional Medical Center nurse Heather LeBlanc says, being a good nurse resembles being one of her all-time favorite TV characters. Like the time a patient was brought to the hospital for an emergency and arrived without cell phone or car keys. When it was time to be discharged, he told LeBlanc that his wife was out of town and he had no way to contact her. He felt stranded and stressed.
"I said, ‘Well, does your wife have Facebook?’ We were able to jump on Facebook and get him in contact with her and make those connections and it changed the whole situation,” LeBlanc said. “I used to love 'MacGyver.' As a kid I looked up to him. And you really do have to ‘MacGyver’ situations, you have to look outside the box. You have to be your patient’s advocate in whatever fashion presents itself.”
These are five stories among thousands. Please join us in thanking these dedicated professionals, and tens of thousands of their colleagues, for their unwavering dedication to respond to the most challenging health crisis in recent history. They remind us that this year, and every year, is the Year of the Nurse.