By Michelle Karys, RN, Rosita Benjamin, RN, and Heidi Grecco, RN
When COVID-19 patients filled many of the units at Good Samaritan Hospital, we were overwhelmed with fear of the unknown. A sense of apprehension filled our hallways, our units were transformed, and our staff became unrecognizable covered in personal protective equipment. Our eyes told a story of fear. We felt lost trying to process what was happening. Our nursing world as we knew it had changed, but we held steadfast to the core of nursing “caring.”
Not only were we scared for ourselves, but scared for our children, our families, our communities, and our world. We fought hard for our patients, even though many lost their fight — it was quality, heartfelt nursing care that helped many survive. Although families and friends were absent in their last moments, patients were not alone: They were in the caring and loving hands of our nursing staff.
We prayed, held their hands, sang, and cried with and for our patients. We made sure our patients were not alone fighting in their struggle to survive. Speaking to families, answering questions, and reassuring them that their loved ones were being cared for was a daily ritual. The author Maya Angelou’s words, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” have never been more fitting as they are now in this pandemic.
When patients were finally discharged, it was as if a ray of sunshine burst through the black clouds bringing hope and raising our spirits. The overhead announcement of “Celebration Sun,” followed by the “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten, played morning through evening.
Discharges brought us joy knowing another patient had beaten COVID-19. The 3 North staff along with others lined the hallways with cheers, clapping and tambourines as patients were discharged. The jingling of the tambourines marked a celebration of life and recovery. The triumphant sounds echoed from the third floor, through the elevators and into the main entrance of the hospital.
This celebration was a sign of hope for both patients and staff. The words of Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song,” “This is my fight song, take back my life song, prove I’m alright song, my power’s turned on, starting right now I’ll be strong, I’ll play my fight song,” was a tribute to each person’s individual journey to healing.
Living through these unprecedented times was a life changing event for all that have experienced it. We all have a renewed appreciation for life and one for another. We fought and will continue to fight COVID-19 as a strong and resilient family here at Good Samaritan Hospital.