Health care heroes: ‘We love this work, we accept this challenge and we will all get through this together’
Normally, I’m a nurse in the cardiovascular intensive care unit (ICU) at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, IL. Since COVID-19 has impacted Lake County, my new home unit is what’s known as the COVID ICU – where the sickest positive patients are placed. I am currently volunteering to work the COVID ICU for most of my shifts, it’s where I spend more than half of my time.
When I walk into work now, I feel a lot of things – mostly determination. I am determined each shift to do the best for my patients and coworkers, both clinically and emotionally. I am determined to rise to the challenge of providing the highest clinical care for patients with this virus – one that presents itself differently in almost every patient. I want to learn from and collaborate with the other nurses working this unit full time, and with the intensivists, who are working tirelessly to provide the best possible care and think outside the box, to get these patients back home to their families. I walk into work feeling proud to be a part of the solution among the most intelligent, resilient nurses and doctors I know.
I want people to know that while they can’t physically be here with their loved ones, we can be their family while they’re here. I want them to know we are working around the clock to get their loved ones back to them. We truly care for them as if they are our own grandparents, parents or siblings. I want people to know that the community support we receive helps more than they may know. From the meals that local restaurants are donating to the “thank you” and “hero” signs outside of our hospital, all of it provides the motivation to be positive and work as hard as we can. I want people to know that we feel their fear, and although we may have some fear ourselves – we aren’t going anywhere. We will continue to show up and give our patients our all because at the end of the day, we love this work, we accept this challenge and we will all get through this together.
My proudest moment in medicine happened right before the photo above taken. My patient wasn’t oxygenating as well as we would have liked. A respiratory therapist and I were in the room for over an hour alongside ICU doctors and nurses. We tried every possible solution until we found what worked to stabilize the patient. Nobody left until we achieved the positive outcome we wanted. When I left the room, every nurse asked how I was doing and how they could help. They ran for medications and supplies for my patients when I couldn’t leave the room, they checked in on my other patients while I was busy and they gave me the emotional support I needed after hours of intense work.
Endlessly, I am proud to work alongside these nurses every shift. I am proud to work with the intensivist team that shows up every day for us, going above and beyond to provide compassionate and collaborative care. I am proud of the clinical excellence I witness and the positive support that we give each other. It truly is a blessing to be a part of the solution. We really are #InThisTogether.
Photo by Amy Jo Badowski.
About the Author
Katie Hulsander is a nurse in the cardiovascular intensive care unit (ICU) at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, IL