Hospital nurses celebrate young man’s recovery with family

Jenny Streeby, Nursing ICU Director, Menorah Medical Center/HCA Midwest Health

Shakell Avery and family

Q. Can you please share with us a memory that stands out during this time for you?
A. We worked with Research Medical Center to treat a young man in his 20’s named Shakell Avery who spent months in the hospital with COVID-19 and recovered, thanks to a convalescent plasma donor from New York City. This summer we worked with his family on a mini reunion. He came back and did a drive-by parade to thank our staff. It was for him just as much as it was for the caregivers. It really gave our staff hope, seeing him walk out of a car and say hello. This was very healing for the staff who cared for him. His nurses now feel like family members. 

Learn more of Shakell Avery’s story in this media report.

Q. How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted frontline health care workers?
A. For the medical staff, a challenge has been how to process the changes brought by COVID-19 and work through this situation. Part of what we do as nurses is to support the patients’ families. With no visitors allowed during the pandemic, sometimes it has been staff who are tasked with giving comfort to a patient during that moment of transition. One family told us they didn’t want their loved one to die alone, so a nurse held the patient’s hand while the family had to watch from the window.

Other changes include the Personal Protective Equipment … masking, face shields, temperature checking. That has led to additional questions from patients and families wanting knowledge about the PPE. 

Q. What are some innovative ways your team has connected patients to loved ones and friends when visitors were not allowed in the hospital?
A. Typically, a hospital’s ICU is not on the ground floor but ours is. We set up a tent outside with chairs and water for family and friends who want to pay a visit through a window. Due to the layout of our grounds, the windows of another portion of our ICU are higher up, so our team built a “standing station” to raise visitors up to the level of those windows. Technology helps as well … iPads allow for patients and families or friends to visit via FaceTime. We are also decorating walls in patients’ rooms with murals, encouraging messages from family, banners signed by staff and pictures. 

Q. What are some of the ways Menorah Medical Center is helping support its nurses during this challenging time?
A. We are offering our nurses emotional support and helping to build their resilience. There is a 24-hour hotline available for our nurses and we offer occasional beneficial activities such as free yoga. We have checklists posted in key areas that nurses can see as they are heading home, reminding them to fit in some self-care when they get home and remember at least one thing they did well that day.

Q. How will this pandemic affect the nursing profession in the future?
A. Nurses are drawn to this job to provide care and comfort. For the majority, this pandemic has brought nurses closer to their job and has really made them realize their resiliency. They will use the tools they have developed during this time to deliver compassionate care and help them connect even better with patients and families. It has brought a sense of understanding that we took for granted.

Back to COVID-19 Stories