American nurses represent the largest share of the healthcare workforce and spend the most time providing direct patient care. As a result, they are deeply impacted by the pandemic in terms of risks to their physical health, livelihood, mental well-being, and family’s safety and security. Yet even in the face of these life-threatening challenges, they continue doing their life-saving work, with compassion, expertise, and quiet leadership, The Foundation shares their stories to give donors and the public a glimpse into the extraordinary service nurses provide, every day.
Tiffany M, RN :: Labor Delivery Nurse :: NS Philadelphia, PA
Recently, my commitment has been put to the test. I’ve had to care for a COVID positive patient while working with a shortage of PPE. I’ve considered the risk to myself and my loved ones each time I return to the hospital for another shift. But as worrisome as this situation has been, I believe I’m right where God wants me to be. My faith keeps me grounded and gives me peace. Caring for my patients in this time is an honor and a privilege. This experience only serves to make me a more compassionate researcher, empathic educator, and caring clinician. Yes, I signed up for this and any other unanticipated health care crises to come.
Kelly W, RN, BSN, CMSRN :: Clinical Nurse III :: Los Angeles, CA
Working on a COVID unit at my hospital, I have experienced first-hand the many changes happening with nursing care. Even simple acts, such as holding a patient's hand or walking with them, now require layers of PPE and double checking the policies and protocols, which change almost daily. But throughout all the struggles of navigating nursing during this global health crisis, the support and unity among my coworkers continues to grow stronger. Knowing we are all in this together, working as a team to keep our patients safe, has been a constant source of comfort for me in these uncertain times. And while we don't know when this crisis will end, what I do know is that with my team on my side, I can continue on as long as it takes.
Stephanie S, RN, CCRN :: Medical ICU, Critical Care :: Olmsted Falls, OH
I'm smiling in this photo because … this was a good day. It also gives me a smile thinking how nice it is the Amish community here in Ohio made thousands of masks for healthcare workers. I'm also making more cloth masks for my colleagues, since I'm self-quarantined because of my exposure risk and I have lots of time on my hands and a ton of scrap fabric!
Emily B, RN, BSN, PCCN :: Cedars-Sinai Hospital :: Los Angeles, CA
It has been extremely hard to watch critical patients sit in isolation, not being allowed to have their families with them; for some, they took their last breaths alone. One of the first patients I had in our COVID ICU had just given consent to be intubated and be placed on a ventilator in order to manage his respiratory distress. In between him struggling to breath I could see the fear in his eyes as he asked me if he would ever see his wife and kids again; this truly broke my heart. All I could do in that moment was tell him that we are all in this together and that we will fight this disease with everything we have. That night driving home from work was the first night I cried and it has not been the last.
Nicole M, RN :: Oncology :: Denver, Colorado
As an oncology nurse, I haven’t met a patient who wasn’t scared. The COVID-19 pandemic heightened this anxiety. Cancer patients have many worries. Among them: What’s therapy going to be like? What are the risks? Am I going to die? If I die, how will my family manage? If I am cured, then what? Where will I obtain my emotional and financial support? What are the side effects? How am I going to get through this?
As professionals, we approach these people every day and these questions are familiar to us. When COVID-19 came into play, we found ourselves with additional questions. How do we protect cancer patients who, due to treatment, have a weakened immune system during a virus pandemic? How is our practice going to change? How are patients and staff protected? How can I protect myself from getting COVID-19 or potentially passing it on? Have I spoken to all my family members? What is my risk? What has not been discovered yet about COVID-19? As a travel nurse, I also had to create my own support system when away from home.
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