ICU Nurses Come Together amid COVID-19
ICU Nurses Come Together amid COVID-19
When COVID-19 first hit the news, it felt like a distant concern for many. As the world learned more about it though, governments, hospitals, businesses, and individuals realized the need to take action. Like many others, our Northside team got right to work preparing for what the coming weeks could bring. This time has challenged and united us.
Early on, Nikki, ICU Manager and Northside employee of nearly 17 years, remained confident in her team’s ability to tackle the challenges that lay ahead. She remembers thinking, “We’ve got this. We’re going to do what we know how to do and what we’ve been doing. We’re going to be extra cautious while we wait to see what happens.”
Our team began preparing, both mentally and physically, for what might come next. Jenny, Med/Surg ICU Nurse, wondered what would be asked of her. She admits: “I envisioned having to sleep at the hospital, basically quarantining myself there to take care of patients.” Like many, she wondered if her team would be prepared enough.
As our team continued to learn more about the virus and started to see more patients, the ICU approach changed drastically. Nikki shares, “Every single aspect of care changed. We had to regroup and figure out how we were going to deal with the volumes of patients and how we were going to anticipate and prepare for the PPE changes.” Instead of turning to fear, the ICU team turned to each other, working together to best care for patients and one another. About her team’s response, Nikki says, “It has blown me away.”
To help equip and support her team, Nikki knew it would vitally important to keep her staff informed. That has proven to be no small task. As the world continues to learn about, respond to, and share new information at a rapid rate, truth can sometimes get lost in the mix, or simply take time to become certain of.
“I started having staff meetings three times a week, twice a day, six times a week, whatever I needed to do to just keep up with all the information,” Nikki explains. “We were learning so much, so fast. But that process really helped set the stage for where we are now.”
Her efforts paid off, helping to prepare team members and raising their comfort and trust levels. She says, “While nurses have their concerns and their fears, as everybody does, my team has been completely amazing. They’re doing an incredible job caring for patients, communicating with their colleagues, being proactive in developing new protocols. It’s been so great to see the staff pull together and maintain the level of care that we expect for our patients.”
Still, this journey is one we’re all taking a day at a time. Jenny reveals, “The patients come in waves and so do our emotions.” Some days, it can feel like things are at a standstill for team members as they wait for patients to get better. Other days, it feels like everything goes right. While uniquely challenging, this time has been uniquely unifying for the ICU team and Northside Family.
Jenny shares: “I’m so proud to be in the ICU during this time. More experienced nurses have become teachers on our units, explaining, helping, answering questions. My teammates have been supportive, talking things out with each other, especially if someone is having a stressful day. I know I can lean on them.”
Beyond the ICU, the entire hospital is part of the effort. Nikki calls out many other groups within the hospital – techs, environmental services, infection prevention, educational offices, med/surg, PACU nurses who have returned to bedside, and on and on. She says, “The whole hospital has changed the focus to help us care for these patients. It’s amazing.”
We’ve learned the importance of the phrase, “We’re in this together.” However cliché or recently overused, the most meaningful and transformative moments we’ve experienced as a world, as a community, and as a team have occurred when we’ve found new ways to care for one another, even from a distance.
Jenny says about her experience: “You’ve got to find your strength because your patients are counting on you, your teammates, your manager, your hospital. It’s crazy to think some patients I’ve cared for will never know me, will never know my care. But I’m okay with that. It’s not about me, it’s about them.”
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