We’re hearing the word “hero” pretty frequently these days…and with good reason. The COVID-19 pandemic has put essential workers in the community up against an invisible foe. Everyone from mail carriers to truck drivers to grocery store workers and first responders are going about their daily responsibilities with bravery and grace. I have been witnessing this bravery every day in my community and throughout MelroseWakefield Healthcare as I see staff do what they do best…care for patients with skill and compassion.
A hero is defined as a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. This sounds like the job description for the 2300 members of the MelroseWakefield Healthcare team. They come to work each day, successfully managing the challenges of the outbreak head on with exceptional skill and expertise, to make our communities safer. Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, and I know for sure that many of them wear a MelroseWakefield Healthcare ID badge. They don’t all provide direct bedside care for patients, but they keep them nourished, keep their rooms safe and clean, and greet them as they enter the hospital. You may not know all of their names, but you know them when you see them or feel the warmth of their caring gestures.
I have never been so proud and grateful as I experience the unrelenting care and commitment of our providers…and apparently I am not the only one. We are grateful for the continued overwhelming support from our communities, who have helped us in securing masks, face shields and head coverings. Our staff is being supported by donated meals throughout the day, leaving one less thing for them to worry about as they prepare for work each day. Recently local first responders from 20 different cities/towns and agencies surprised us with a rolling rally of support, which filled our hearts.
Each May, we take a week to honor the amazing work our nurses do. Nurses Week is typically filled with events and lectures to celebrate our nurses. This year, our social distancing efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic may have kept us from gathering in groups together, but it certainly didn’t keep us from celebrating the work our nurses are doing.
As a nurse, I have a special place in my heart for Nurses Week. The highlight of Nurses Week is always on May 12…Florence Nightingale’s birthday. This year marked Florence’s 200th birthday, and I have been thinking about her during the current pandemic. She was a determined nurse who fought heroically for her patients, she was a tireless advocate for nursing practice, and she was a caring, compassionate soul who understood the importance of the simple gestures like holding the hand of a patient. She laid the foundation of professional nursing with the establishment of her nursing school at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London. In an interesting turn of fate, this is the same hospital British Prime Minister Boris Johnson sought care from when diagnosed with COVID this spring.
I have seen Florence’s strength and character in our nurses over the past weeks, and I know that she would have been equally proud of them for all that they are doing and how they have advanced the profession. Our nurses not only offer comfort and basic care to patients, as Florence did, but they also perform highly complex tasks, administer multiple titrated medications and monitor patient progress using the latest medical technologies. Our chief nursing office, Deb Cronin-Waelde put her thanks into words with this moving video message for our nurses. We all feel Deb’s sentiments, not only during Nurses Week, but every day.
One of the great things about May, is that right on the heels of Nurses Week comes Hospital Week, a time when we get to honor the contributions to outstanding patient care and support throughout our system by our staff. Their creative and proactive thinking keeps us all safe and has led to new levels of innovation to respond to the challenges, such as
- Advanced safety protocols and resources that help keep all patients and employees safe.
- Isolation units, including negative pressure intensive care units, to ensure the highest quality of care for patients in a separate, protective care area.
- A drive-through COVID-19 testing site at Lawrence Memorial Hospital in Medford, to give results and assurances to our patients and community first responders.
- Innovative conservative approaches to PPE to ensure that all staff and patients have the appropriate level of protection for COVID and non-COVID needs.
- In-house production of hand sanitizer by our expert pharmacists, ensuring availability of this important resource.
- So many other staff members have jumped in and asked “how can I help” or “what do you need,” during this time. With the need for more hands available in certain areas of the hospital, staff members have eagerly cross-trained to work in areas they do not commonly work to help defeat this virus in our communities.
These are just a few examples of the things that I have seen, making Hospital Week 2020 one for the ages.
Yes, we talk a lot about heroes these days…and with good reason.