Fred Rogers famously said, “When I was a boy and would see scary things on TV my mom would always say look for the helpers. There will always be helpers.” The news is frightening right now, for adults and children alike, but we’re finding solace in the fact that helpers are abundant.
We feel especially galvanized to recognize the nurses who are risking their lives and working long hours, sometimes with insufficient equipment and supplies, to save lives. So, we are hosted a contest to celebrate nurses working on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are chose ten winners over the course of two and a half months. The hero nurse winners will received a Nurse Typewriter sign.
We hope these stories elevate their spirits, if only just a little bit, with some recognition and observance of their good works.
Here are their stories!
Winner: Stephanie Williams
First off, I can’t pick just one nurse. This sign needs to be hung behind the nursing station desk in the ICU at the Grey Nuns Hospital in Edmonton, AB, Canada.
My dad was admitted to the ICU following a grueling 8+ hour life-saving emergency surgery to repair a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm. Within minutes of being on the floor in the ICU following surgery, my dad’s heart stopped. The surgeon, the doctors, and the nurses on shift that night saved his life and gave us the opportunity to see him again. I spent 3 days with my dad in the ICU before the COVID no-visitor policy was put in effect. During those 3 days/nights I met dozens of nurses who cared for my dad like he was their own. Their hearts are pure gold.
Their caring nature went further than my dad, the patient, they looked after my well-being too. They saw the pain in my dad’s eyes and the worry in mine, and they did everything in their power to make us both comfortable. The nursing staff of the ICU had COVID positive patients to care for, which was out of the comfort zone for everyone involved, and yet my dad remained a top priority, just like the rest of the patients. My dad spent 20 days in the Hospital (alone) after enduring 5 surgeries while the COVID pandemic went on around him. The nursing staff did their absolute best to fill in for the family since we were not permitted to visit him.
The nurses are human, and they felt sorrow for us. No family should ever be held back from a critically ill family member, and no critically ill family member should be left alone. The nurses realized this and did everything in their power to bring us closer to my dad. If I asked them to do something for my dad, they’d do it the second I got off the phone with them without hesitation. They would send us pictures of my dad to show us the progress he was making, and they would FaceTime us for my dad so that we could see each other and tell him how much we loved him and missed him.
My dad was a fighter and fought harder than his body would let him, without giving up. The nursing staff also fought hard for my dad and never gave up on him, even when the prognosis was not favorable, they would give him the push he needed to keep fighting instead of diminishing care. Unfortunately, on April 20, 2020, my dad passed away from complications of surgeries and his body shutting down after a 3-week long battle. That morning, the nursing staff greeted me at the front door of the hospital to escort me to my dad’s bedside (due to COVID policy, we could only see him if he was actively dying).
The nurses on shift did everything possible to make my dad comfortable - free of any pain and suffering and allowed my dad to spend his last waking hours with his family without unnecessary interruptions. Though all the nursing staff was masked up to protect themselves from COVID, you could see the emotions in their eyes when they looked at us. As I mentioned before, they are human too. They celebrate life, but they also grieve the death of their patients.
After caring for my dad for nearly 3 weeks, they felt an attachment to him and were hurting as much as we were as a family. I cannot thank the nursing staff enough for all of the care they provided to my dad, and in turn to my family. Words are not enough. Though our family lost our dad, husband, and hero that day, and our hearts are broken, we can still appreciate the extra time the nursing staff gave us with my dad. Over the span of those 3 weeks, we gained an appreciation for the work they do on front lines every day, with or without the COVID pandemic. “Thank you” will never feel like enough.
Winner: Alicia Sale
My story is about me. There are just no words that adequately express what we nurses have seen & felt in the last 6 weeks. Our stories should be heard, so thank you for this contest. I've been a nurse for 15 years so I am a seasoned pro. However, recent events have made me anxious about going to work every day. I can't stop thinking about how sick will my patients be? Will there be enough supplies to care for them? Will I have what I need to protect myself? Will I get to eat or drink before this shift? Will a patient die without loved ones at their side, fully masked, comforting them as best as I can. Will I get sick, or even worse, make my husband or kids sick? Do I feel okay? Will my children be okay when this is over? Do they miss my hugs and kisses as much as I missing giving them? Will we all be ok?
I give 110% to every patient I care for. I am their advocate, their last resource for what they need to heal and go home. I work in a highly stressful constantly changing environment. Elective surgeries are postponed, so we currently only see emergency cases and we are busy. Our patients aren't prepared for what's happening and they're all alone.
They're scared about having or getting COVID-19. As nurses, we are here for them when others cannot be. We are here when we have asked others to stay home, to stop the spread and flatten the curve. Everybody needs somebody and my patients know that through the highs and lows, I will be there with comfort and love, even if only from a stranger. I have never felt more important in my role than I do at this moment. I am a proud nurse.
Winner: Kim LeMercier
"My daughter, Corinne had been an ER nurse for only 4 months before the Coronavirus pandemic reached British Columbia. She has worked through some difficult and scary days often coming in contact with patients who have symptoms or tested positive for Covid-19. Everyday Corinne and I both wonder if she is a carrier. Sometimes the long shifts take a toll and the only place to relieve her stress is a quick cry during a bathroom break. I admire her resilience, flexibility to adapt to new protocols, and respect for her ER colleagues. She is my HERO and I cannot wait to give her a BIG hug ❤