Health Care Heroes: ‘And still I rise’

Health Care Heroes: ‘And still I rise’

On March 11, it became real. Confident in their skills and fearful of the unknown, the Medical Respiratory Intensive Care Unit team at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center treated their first of hundreds of COVID-19 patients during the pandemic.

Even the most prepared care teams worldwide were knocked back on their heels by the severity and scope of COVID-19. For Jodie Gord, MRICU manager at St. Luke’s, the cases spiked as she coordinated resources, new processes and PPE for the nearly 120 people on her team.

“We were constantly at capacity and it consisted of the highest acuity patient population I have seen in my almost 10-year career as a nurse,” said Gord.

Within weeks, Gord’s unit was filled with patients suffering from severe symptoms and no clear answers on how to treat them. Sadly, some of these patients became victims. With families unable to visit their loved ones to prevent the spread of the virus, Gord’s team made a pact to never let anybody die alone.

“If they were on the ventilator or perhaps taking their last breath…[we] held many hands while family members were on the Zoom meetings in tears,” said Gord.

As fatigue set in and the physical and emotional grind took its toll, that’s when the team leaned on their motto: And still I rise.

New ideas came to the fore. The “proning” team was created, a group of six who went room-to-room to prone or supinate patients to improve oxygenation. Jodie created the “Zen Den” in a conference room where team members could unwind and relieve stress. The team also took part in wellness walks in local parks and were able to share their experiences in weekly debriefs with chaplain services.

“I felt like a mother of a large family. Our team continued to grow stronger and closer amidst the chaos,” said Gord.

Five months into a pandemic with no immediate end in sight, their commitment to patients – and each other – will help everybody rise over COVID-19.

“I can’t begin to explain how proud I am of the team,” said Gord. “From the beginning, they rose to the occasion and have not backed down since.”

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About the Author

Matt Queen
Matt Queen

Matt Queen, health enews contributor, is a communication coordinator at Aurora Health Care in Milwaukee. He is a former TV sports anchor and journalist with extensive public relations experience across the health care spectrum. Outside of work, Matt enjoys watching sports (of course), cooking, gardening, golfing and spending time with his wife and two young children.