Two hundred years ago, if you had to go somewhere for care, the options were few and far between. Hospitals were rare, medical knowledge was limited, and infections were not understood or avoided. When doctors and nurses went home for the night, you were on your own until morning, if you lasted that long.
During the mid-1800s, Florence Nightingale started to change everything. Known as the "Lady of the Lamp," she made it her mission to improve hygiene, care for patients around the clock, offer food and entertainment to lift patients' spirits, and train a new generation of nurses to follow in her footsteps. Every year, Nurses Week is celebrated during the week of Florence Nightingale's birthday, May 12th.
Today's hospitals are unequivocally different, tending to patients so thoroughly that many hospitals hire hospitality experts to improve the inpatient stay. Nurses work around the clock to be available to patients at all times, to ensure exact medication doses and times, to monitor all changes, and avoid anything that could make a patient's condition worse. Nursing is a passion, a challenging passion, that requires humor and positive moments handle the stress.
This Nurses Week, our nurses have shared some of their favorite stories and memories that make them smile and motivate them to live up to Florence Nightingale's example.
I was caring for a patient who could not walk and required a full lift to get from their bed to chair. One day, I arrived to my normal shift to find her walking down the hall wearing heals and a suit. I was about to shout "Everyone, come quick! It's a miracle!" when she introduced herself as the patient's identical twin sister.
I was a new nurse, working in an ICU in a bigger city that I was not used to. I was working with patients who were on ventilaters and could not talk. I remember one patient in particular, who wrote down a list of questions for the doctor. The doctor came in to see him, answered all of the questions and was discussing lab work and tests the patient would be having. The doctor left and I went back into the room. The patient handed me a piece of paper that said, "Can you see if they can get a Pantagraph?" Wanting to get the order for this test before the doctor left the unit, I grabbed the piece of paper and went running out of the room and up to the nurses station where the doctor was standing. I said, "Mr. ________ wants to know about this test." The doctor looked at the note and said, "Sure, he can have a newspaper." The Pantagraph was the name of the local newspaper....
Once I was approached by a patient who was trying to hand me a "tip" in gratitude for the kindness I showed him while he was in the hospital. He said that he had terrible diarrhea while he was there and appreciated how I never made him feel bad about having to be cleaned up. I honestly did not remember this patient's face. I guess I spent more time looking at the flipside....
As a House Supervisor in the 1990's, if you worked the night shift, you were also the only Emergency Department staff on duty. One night stands out because of the chaos and the teamwork.
That night, the ED had 5 patients, which meant every room in the ED was occupied. I had to call in the physician because at night they went home to bed back then. The physician came in, checked on all of the patients and gave me orders verbally to carry out. An ICU nurse came down to the ED to help move a patient into ICU.
The physician left for home again, and seconds later he returned alongside a child in the arms of a parent, whom the physician met in the parking lot. They told him they had given their child a pet medicine and was worried about what they would do to their child. I called Poison Control, which, at that time, always took at least 30 minutes to get someone to provide the information we needed to treat the child.
The physician left the hospital again for home. As I was quickly taking care of the other patients and trying to get them either admitted or discharged, I heard someone pounding on the outside ED glass doors. I went to see what they needed, and the gentleman yelled that he needed help. Suffice it to say, he had a trauma patient in his truck. I ran back into the ED and hit the panic button (an alarm which sounded on FACU so they knew I needed help; that was the first and only time I ever used it). A nurse aid and a nurse came running down to assist.
We took care of the patient and called in the surgeon. The Respiratory tech came down and offered to help, so we had him calling in the surgery team. We were able to get the patient into surgery within 50 minutes after arrival and also took care of the other 5 patients in the ED. It was a whirlwind, but a great show of teamwork to meet our patients' needs.
Happy to say the ED is fully staffed now on the night shift.
During the 2017 IVCC Nurse Pinning, a new graduate was asked to speak during the ceremony. The speech correlated Nursing School to the 7 Stages of Grief. It was a very heartfelt and memorable speech that hit the nail on the head. It is a rewarding field, but the path to get to Nursing is a tough one."
On the FACU team, 6:00 a.m. can be a hectic time for nurses. There are doctors starting their rounds, med passes to start, patients are being walked, and most patients are waking up. I remember standing at the nurses station on 2nd floor one morning, double checking my "to-do list" and scanning the nurses station. I instantly started chucking to myself because it was pure chaos. Sometimes, nursing is just that... pure chaos (controlled chaos, whenever possible). In those moments of chaos, nurses come together an dhelp each other out to get things done, and in the end even on those busy mornings everything works itself out and that "to-do list" gets done. This is just one moment, but one that makes me smile and appreciate my fellow nurses.
One night long ago, while on the FACU floor, we decided to pull a prank on our coworker, who happened to be the only worker in the ED. I convinced one of the other nurses to call into the ED and say "I'm in the parking lot and I'm going into labor!" The nurse worriedly asked them to pull their car up to the ED doors. She shouted back, "I can't! It's coming!" At this point, the nurse was flustered, but went running outside to the parking lot, moving from car to car, looking inside to try to find the woman in labor. We had made our way downstairs and outside to witness the nurse scrambling around. I shouted, "Hey ________, what are you doing?" The nurse responded, "There is a woman giving birth and I'm trying to--" Suddenly the nurse realized what was going on and turned around to see us standing there, bursting into laughter.
We hope you enjoyed these stories from Perry's nurses! If you know someone who works in nursing, be sure to thank them for everything they do.