by Danielle Moore, PA-C, Department of Medicine
When I think back on my time working during the COVID-19 surge, I find myself most surprised by the positive emotions and the lessons I learned. I always expect to exclusively relive the anxiety and fatigue of the pandemic, as I am sure all who worked through it can appreciate, and these certainly are present when I review my experience, but there is also an overwhelming sense of gratitude and pride. I find myself immensely proud of the tremendous work done by my colleagues throughout the hospital.
The environmental service workers, kitchen staff, secretaries and transport team members all went above and beyond to find ways to keep our patients and staff as safe as possible. I am forever thankful for their dedication to keeping the hospital clean, safe and functioning. The PCAs and nurses left me in awe of their courage and determination. They were the shining example of what patient care truly looks like and their sacrifices were apparent from the time many of them spent away from their families to the skin breakdown caused by their masks. The hospital needed everyone to work as team to keep functioning, but I do not think anyone can deny the heavy burden we asked our nurses and PCAs to carry. The social workers, case management, physical therapists and speech therapists were crucial in advancing the care of our patients from all angles, focusing on the physical and mental health, with attention to how this pandemic was affecting the patients during the hospital as well as after discharge.
My APP colleagues from other departments were asked to do what I’m sure felt impossible, by stepping into roles they do not usually occupy and using skills they have not used in years, if at all, and I was in awe of their ability to adapt and their dedication to patient care. They were all true assets to their temporary departments. I can personally speak to the gratitude the FACT team has for our ortho, surgery and pre-op colleagues and their assistance. Their presence and support during that time is truly appreciated, and I am not sure we will ever truly be able to show them that. The physicians and APPs of the medicine department are a tremendous group at baseline and, while I know I am biased in saying that as they are my hospital family, I also truly believe it.
During this crisis, they went above and beyond to navigate the difficult balance of caring for these patients through illness and recovery, but also in comfort and dignity. While many COVID-19 patients recovered, there were also many who did not, but no matter the outcome, each patient was treated as an individual and not just another number in a pandemic. I am also truly appreciative of the difficult and important work of the ICU, infectious disease and palliative care teams who were crucial to us all from the very first case. They were always generous with their time, knowledge and support when they were being stretched thin and pulled in every direction.
The teamwork I witnessed among these groups was awe-inspiring and the type of experience that makes me proud to work here at the “Friendly Faulkner.” I was especially impressed by the ability of all to tackle difficult conversations, which happened primarily via phone, with grace and compassion. Telling a patient’s loved ones that he or she will not recover from a disease is always a difficult experience, but when taking into account that these families could not see their loved ones, combined with having these conversations without the ability to use physical means of comfort, was a new level of difficulty. With the help of the multiple disciplines involved in each patient’s team, these conversations, though still difficult, were held almost continuously, and while the families may not have left with the answers they were searching for, they never left the conversations feeling lesser than they were or that their concerns were not worthy. Each patient and their family members were treated with the very best care we could possibly offer. So when I look back, I will always remember the stress and anxiety, and if we ever reach a point where we can take these masks off, I will certainly remember my hatred AND appreciation for them, but mostly I will remember how thankful I am to work with these people, who gave me hope when it felt like none existed.
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