Marilee Mann, BSN, RN, Medical Intensive Care Unit – Henry Ford Hospital

Today was my first actual loss at Henry. I lost my first patient to COVID. I have taken care of two months’ worth of COVID-positive patients, but today was different. Today it was my turn to talk to family, comfort them, and tell them I would stay at the bedside until his last breath was taken. And today I did just that…I played him classical music, held his hand, stroked his hair and was just present with him as he did, in fact, take his last breath. When “we” nurses say we will be there, we will. We lost three patients in the last 24 hours. This is hard. Today was hard. That being said…we are in this together and look out for one another. Today I was asked by a staff doc how I was doing, hearing about the patient that had passed the night before. The patient I had today, his “brother,” asked me how I was doing with all of this—he is losing a family member and is asking about how I am doing?!

Our chaplain came up today doing his rounds…he asked how I was holding up. Today another favorite staff doc bought the entire Medical ICU team lunch (and dinner) to show his gratitude. The food was fantastic and much appreciated…shout-out to Rocco’s Italian Deli in Midtown.

We had a patient attempt an “escape” and scoot out of bed and sat straight on the floor—that was fun. Hahaha.

My manager put together a video of the staff on our unit during this pandemic—a collection of photos—we watched it as a group today. Tamara said, “And look at us all smiling, we smiled through all of this…how have we smiled through all of this?”

We only had seven patients today in our ICU, out of 12 beds…and we lost two of them in our 12-hour shift. This is just my little slice of ICU life today.

Today had to be one of my toughest days at Henry. Today really hurt. Today I ugly-cried, with mascara-streaked cheeks under my riot gear. Today I FaceTimed my patient for his family, so they could say goodbye. I sat at my patient’s bedside while one by one his family said goodbye. They cried, they told him how much they loved him, how much they would miss him, how unfair this virus is. For 30 minutes I held that phone, my heart completely breaking for them. This tragic personal moment where a child said goodbye to his father, a mother pleading with God to take her son’s pain away, all while I, a complete stranger, listened. When they had said their last goodbyes, I turned the phone towards my face, promising them he would not be alone, I would stay with him, I would keep him free from pain, and just how sorry I was, all while choking back my tears. When I left his room after the call I fell apart, the ugly-crying I referred to earlier. This is horrible—no one should have to say goodbye to their family member via FaceTime. He passed 47 minutes later with a stranger holding his hand.