“You can’t just unpack that before you leave”

“You can’t just unpack that before you leave”

Whether supporting and educating the staff who care for patients, or caring for patients herself, Jayme Giannopoulos’s roles have fluctuated over the past year. From treating COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit at Aurora Medical Center in Oshkosh, Wis., to instructing ICU staff on the latest information and procedures, this professional development generalist wears many important hats.

“When COVID came, there were a lot of new things that were coming our way,” she says. “So it was, ‘how do I effectively and efficiently teach the staff what they need to know so they’re prepared and equipped to deliver the best patient care they can?’ I also took on an ICU shift each week for 8 weeks. But basically, if and when it was needed, I was out on the floor.”

For Giannopoulos and all her fellow ICU teammates, it was second nature to dive in and be there for their ill community members.

“They say that during tough times, it’ll either bring out the best in people, or it’ll bring out the worst in people. I will never forget the people that I’ve worked with during this time, because the team has just come together in ways that only a pandemic can push you together,” she says. “It’s up to (health care workers) to make sure we’re doing everything that we can to help people live well, or in our situation in the ICU, to live.”

And often, it gets personal.

“When someone looks you in your eye when you’re about to put them on a ventilator, and they just say, ‘I don’t wanna die’, you can’t just unpack that before you leave,” expresses Giannopoulos. “And when you try to reassure them, but then they don’t make it, and you’ve done everything you can and it still wasn’t enough, you not only feel you failed the patient – you feel like their family dropped off their loved one, and all they get back is a belongings bag. It’s a lot to take.”

For Giannopoulos, it’s trust in her faith and science that keep her going, including her hope in the vaccine. She encourages the community to consider getting theirs when presented with the opportunity and after discussing with their health care provider if it is right for them.

“Do it for those that didn’t get a chance, for the families that didn’t get to say goodbye, and for all the brave men and women that risk their lives every day around the world fighting this pandemic,” Giannopoulos urges. “I need to continue to praise the team I work with and the dedication to our patients. I am blessed to be part of this team.”

Click here for more stories about doctors, nurses and others working on the front lines.

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One Comment

  1. I am proud to Know Jayme She is since a young lady… She is a smart, loving and caring woman and would feel in the best hands if she were my nurse when in hosp..Aurora is lucky to have her on their team and I am lucky I use Aurora hosp.. All do a fabulous job there

About the Author

Brianna Wunsch
Brianna Wunsch

Brianna Wunsch, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator for Advocate Aurora Health with a BA in public affairs from University of Wisconsin - Green Bay. In her free time, Brianna enjoys living an active lifestyle through biking, hiking and working out at the gym, but even more than that, she especially loves spending quality time with her two cats (Arthur and Loki), son and husband.