The hopeful experience that helps this nurse keep fighting
“It’s a really hard time mentally for everybody, but I genuinely love being a nurse and being able to be an advocate for my patient,” said Alison Hamann, an intensive care unit nurse at Aurora Sheboygan Memorial Medical Center. “I love being able to do what I can to make a small difference for that patient and their family.”
Hamann moved to Sheboygan and started at Sheboygan Memorial around the beginning of the pandemic. With two young children at home, one only five months old, caring for COVID patients brings its own challenges.
“I worry more, that constant fear of bringing something home,” said Hamann. “Pretty much everybody is picking up overtime and helping each other out which means that we’re home less and we see our families less. That’s hard on all our families.”
Day-to-day care for patients with COVID can be especially emotional. Hamann remembers how many times she has held a patient’s hand for their last breaths. She’s not alone.
“My coworkers and I have experienced such tragic losses, but that’s reality of the pandemic,” she said. “It’s really hard to see these case numbers increase because it doesn’t take a lot to socially distance and wear your mask.”
One day when Hamann returned from a few days off, she noticed the door was open to the room of one of her patients. When the room was empty, she immediately assumed the worst.
“I immediately spiraled. I thought the worst because he was incredibly sick and it’s what we’ve been seeing,” said Hamann.
But one of her teammates stopped her and gave her the good news. The patient had improved and was moved out of the ICU.
“I immediately ran over to his room and just kind of stared at him because I didn’t believe it. He remembered me from the day he was intubated and we talked for a while,” said Hamann. “He asked about me right after he woke up from being sedated.”
That patient recovered and was able to go home, but the experience left a lasting impression on Hamann.
“We fight so hard every day for these patients and hope and pray for the best outcome,” she said.
“Whenever I have a patient that’s not doing well, I remind myself of that experience and that we can’t predict everything. We just have to hope for the best.”
The support of her family and her coworkers helps Hamann keep going.
“Truthfully, I can’t tell you the last time I did laundry. Thankfully, I have a supportive husband who picked up the slack,” said Hamann. “My coworkers are absolutely amazing, incredibly intelligent and supportive. Even on our worst days, we’re always doing everything we can to support each other and make sure we’ll all taken care of so we can provide the best patient care.”
About the Author
Ben Hoekstra is a public affairs coordinator with Advocate Aurora Health. He previously worked in marketing and PR for various Milwaukee nonprofits and received his master’s degree in Corporate Communications from Marquette University. He enjoys the outdoors, cooking, and all things Milwaukee.