by Gloria Brigham, EdD, MN, RN | WSNA Director of Nursing Practice
In early March, a frightened nurse reported that she knew she had been exposed to COVID-19 during her shift and was checking into a hotel to avoid exposing her young children and husband. Later, food and clothes were dropped off at her door while she waited all alone, for direction on what to do next.
Never in our wildest dreams did we imagine that the Year of the Nurse and Nurse Midwife would bring to light nurses’ amazing contribution and dedication to those that they serve. Time and again, stories of nurses on the frontline add new meaning as Washington state unites to battle COVID-19.
Nurses speak of dying patients who are not allowed to have those they hold dear by their side. Compassion to ease the pain of both patients and loved ones is shown through extraordinary efforts to connect families by phone and technology, through presence at the bedside, and by holding the hand of a dying patient in reverence of an important life ending. This nursing devotion is not without an emotional toll and heartbreak as multiple deaths may occur during one shift. This is service over self.
Nurses speak of making the decision to separate from their children and spouses to reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission. Their hearts ache at being separated from the warm touch and comfort of their families, yet they are called to provide care to all those seeking service during this pandemic. This is service over self.
Nurses speak of fear of not having the right personal protective equipment to stay safe on the front lines. They report lack of access to masks, face shields, gowns, and gloves for personal safety and are worried that they will contract the virus that carries so many unknowns and has left devastation in its wake. Yet each day, nurses return to work. This is service over self.
Nurses speak of vulnerability when asked to deliver unfamiliar care and treatment outside of usual work units. Adapting quickly, nurses learn new skills, implement innovative solutions, and collaborate to safely provide quality care. This is service over self.
Nurses speak of colleagues on the frontlines who have joined in the Washington fight from across the United States. Dedicated nurses have left their own homes and families to assist in our state, as we battle COVID-19. Heroes who work tirelessly to exemplify both the art and science of nursing in unprecedented times. This is service over self.
In this, the Year of the Nurse and Nurse Midwife, we recognize our nurses, who have chosen to run toward this disaster to save others. We applaud their dedication and perseverance and sincerely thank them for their sacrifices and for their service over self.
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