In recognition of National Nurses Week, Spectrum Health asked a handful of its registered nurses at Butterworth Hospital to discuss their careers and how their work and perspectives have changed during this global pandemic.
Here are a few of their answers:
What do you want people to know about COVID-19 and the work you are doing?
“We are learning something new about COVID-19 every day. As soon as we think we have solid knowledge on the virus, something changes. Every time I come back to work, we are learning something new. We wear masks the entire time we are inside the hospital and even have ‘hot zone bosses’ who ensure we are putting on and taking off PPE correctly to minimize risk of contamination.”
Caitlin Hill, serious contagious disease unit
Are you worried about your own health? What about your family?
“My husband has been furloughed, so he is home with our sons, who are 10 and 14. I am the only one who regularly leaves the house. I have a process of making sure I am safe. It starts when one of my sons greets me at the door and sprays my shoes with a can of Lysol. I was in nursing school on 9/11. We were scared. This reminds me a lot of that, although it’s dragging on. This isn’t a fight that will be over this month or next month. We need to be resilient and still be compassionate.”
Patti DeLine, nurse manager, critical care unit
How are your patients doing? How sick are they, and are you seeing some recover?
“Each patient situation is different. We have seen a wide range of ages and severity of the illness. Some of these patients are very sick and can sometimes decline very quickly. We also have been seeing patients recover, and it is such a rewarding feeling. Our team has partnered with the ICU to celebrate patients leaving there with a graduation walk where team members line the hallways and cheer and congratulate the patient. The transition to our unit is a step in the right direction and a milestone worth celebrating. The graduation walks have inspired the nursing team and kept the morale and energy high. To date, our unit alone has discharged 51 COVID patients from the hospital and on their way to recovery.”
Lauren Nichol, nurse manager, serious contagious disease unit
What would you like to say to the community?
“We want to say thank you. We see you. We hear you. And we feel the love. Please keep it coming. The community support is what is keeping things going here on the front lines. We have really hard days, but knowing we have an entire community supporting us is what gets us through. For me personally, nursing is my calling. It’s what I’m supposed to be doing every day of my life. Also, even though the hospital doors are locked to most visitors, this place is full of caring and compassionate people working day in and day out. As the front line at Spectrum Health, we will take care of your loved ones and even try to fill that role of a loved one if you can’t physically be here to visit right now.”
Kenda Peot, nurse manager, emergency department
What advice would you offer to someone who is thinking about a career in health care?
“Shadow health care workers in the field you would like to pursue. Think about how you handle high-stress situations. Are you able to make in-the-moment decisions? Are you able to ask for help? Because health care is stressful, it can be intense. And it’s a team environment. You have to be confident enough in your skills and knowledge to know when you can deal with complicated matters on your own and when you need to ask others for help. It could literally be a matter of life and death.”
Melissa Jones, critical care unit