In a hospital setting, patients require care around the clock. While most people are at home and asleep, staff members at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital are hard at work caring for our patients and their families. Some of them are simply night owls, some find it makes child care easier and others are in positions where they just have to be flexible. But there is one thing everyone who works over night agrees upon: We take care of each other.
For the last ten years, Oswald (Ozzie) Ramos has worked the night shift at BWFH. As security supervisor he oversees two other officers on the night shift. The two officers take turns staffing the ED, leaving Ramos and one officer to patrol the rest of the hospital. Ramos says he was initially interested in the supervisor position on the night shift because, “I was always kind of a night owl anyway.” Over the years, he’s come to enjoy the hospital at night. It’s quieter, there are fewer patients walking around and there are fewer visitors. But most importantly, “It’s almost like close family because everybody knows each other. There’s not as many people and staff so you get to work more with the staff that’s here. We all take care of each other,” says Ramos.
Like Ramos, 6 North staff nurse Sowaya Lerebour is also a night person. She describes the pace of the hospital at night as slower. Patients don’t go out for testing, there are no visitors, there are no doctors rounding, there’s no physical therapy and there are no social services. “It’s a little quieter,” she says, but it’s far from boring. “People have the misconception that patients sleep. Patients do not sleep,” she says. During the night, patients must be woken periodically for vitals, and by 5 am everyone is getting up and call bells are going off. Because there is limited staff at night, those who are there must rely on each other. “I like the night shift because I like my coworkers a lot,” says Lerebour. And when her shift is over, Lerebour is lucky enough to be flexible about when she sleeps and when she is active. “I need to have a life. I am very big on spending time with my friends and family. I’m not going to stay home and sleep all day. I’ll sleep if I need to, but if I have to do things, I’ll just go,” she says.
|Caroline King and Bernadette Javier|
For 7 North staff nurses Caroline King and Bernadette Javier, who’ve worked together for the better part of 25 years, working the night shift afforded them the opportunity to be present when their children were growing up. When her kids were little, “My husband would bring the girls to school. I’d sleep like two or three hours in the morning if I could and then pick them up and bring them to wherever they wanted to go-library, sports, whatever. By 6 pm I’d have to be in bed because I’d have to wake up at 10 pm,” says Javier. It was never easy. “Not everybody could do it,” she says. But it worked. Similarly, when her children were young, King was able to work nights, sleep off hours and be awake when her kids needed her. “I was at every game. I was at every awards ceremony,” she says. “My husband used to be annoyed when I was on nights all the time, but now he’s so used to it. He used to always say, ‘I think you should come off the night shift.’ But it was really the best thing for our family,” she explains. Just like at home, during their shift, it’s all about making it work. “We know each other really well. We depend on each other. We’ve worked together for years and years and years. It’s like a small family,” says King. She explains, “We know who’s on all the time and who we can call.” Javier agrees, saying, “We help each other.”
Leandra McLean, RN, is clinical leader in the ED. She says, “Because there are so few of us at night, we do tend to work a little better together.” She describes the workflow as a group of people taking care of a group people. This team feel comes from a deep respect and friendship among co-workers. “A lot of them have worked together for 20 or 25 years. It’s a really nice group of people,” says McLean. Much like King and Javier, working the night shift just works for McLean. “I choose it because I have young kids. I have three kids in elementary school. I work 7 pm to 3:30 in the morning, which is a very odd shift. But I go home, I take a nap and I’m able to get up with my kids in the morning, get them ready for school and get them off to school. I go back to bed and then get up when they’re getting out of school so we can do afternoon activities,” she says. It’s not always easy to find time for sleep, but “It works. You do what you need to do,” she says.
|Dr. Jessica Brooks|
For Dr. Jessica Brooks, attending physician in the ED, working the night shift from time to time is just part of the job. She splits her time between the ED at BWFH and BWH, working both day and night shifts. Working both, she sees the pros and cons of each. During the day, the hospital is teeming with doctors and nurses who you can bounce ideas off of. At night, Dr. Brooks is often the only doctor in the ED after midnight. There is usually a physician’s assistant on until 3 or 4 am, as well as the team of nurses and security, all working together to treat patients and help one another. “The night shift is nice because the hospital is quieter,” says Dr. Brooks. “We all work well together as a team to care for anyone and anything that walks through the door,” she says. There are other perks to the night shift as well. “The nice part about the night shift is being home to put my kids to bed before I go into work,” she says.
Those that work the night shift do so for a range of reasons. One thing that is true across the board is this: With limited resources, staff members must lean on each other to get the job done. It’s BWFH’s dedicated staff, who care for both patients and each other, that keeps the hospital running over night.