Lorraine Lewis, BSN, RN, originally from Cardiac Cath Lab – Long Island Jewish Medical Center
With the rapid closure of the Cardiac Cath Lab, Lorraine volunteered to be redeployed to the Emergency Department (ED). She chose the ED because of both her clinical background and familiarity with the Senior Admin Director, Helena Willis, MSN, RN, CEN. She and Helena had worked together in the past and maintained a relationship. Lorraine worked mostly in the “tent” and was immediately impressed by the level of support and comradery there.
The support from and for each other was amazing. She acknowledged that everyone was scared to death, the unknowns of this virus were overwhelming, but “we all hung in together.” When the ED volume started to drop, the tent closed and then Lorraine just volunteered to work in the MICU that was created in our Interventional Recovery Suite (IRS).
Lorraine was fortunate to be with a coworker, Marykate Alcusky, BSN, RN, CEN, in the ED. When their services were no longer needed there, together they went to the MICU annex located in the IRS. Again, Lorraine was amazed by the comradery and the support they received from the nurses in the area. Most notable to Lorraine was one of the agency nurses. She felt that the agency nurses would be “guests in our home” and quickly realized that indeed they became family as well. One particular nurse, Ashley, left a special mark on Lorraine.
Ashley is a travel nurse originally from Florida. She joined the MICU staff and was often working in the IRS. Lorraine was immediately taken by Ashley’s incredible bedside manner. Lorraine recalled visiting a patient that Ashley was caring for. Lorraine had a bond with the family and tried to visit whenever she could. On this day, very shortly after Lorraine arrived, this patient, “Juan,” began to desat and become significantly bradycardic, Ashley jumped out of her seat before Lorraine could say a word. Ashley’s comment, “No one dies alone here,” and the fact that she ran into the room to hold his hand will be forever etched in Lorraine’s memory.
Lorraine spoke of the need for humanism and human touch. She felt the pictures and anecdotes posted around the room about the patient and the family helped to develop relationships. It was difficult, particularly in Surge B, because the environment could easily be overwhelming. When asked about support from management, both from her home unit and the new units, Lorraine enthusiastically replied that she felt supported. Units worked as well as they could and she was comfortable knowing that she was part of the solution. The level of support for each other was amazing! There were no titles, no hierarchy. Everyone chipped in with everything they had. In terms of self-care, Lorraine noted how grateful she was to be working with Marykate in both areas. They would talk every day; on her days off she would have Marykate check on her patients and vice versa. There were times each cried, but luckily they were different times.
When asked about the silver lining, Lorraine spoke of how lucky she was “to meet all these amazing people that I ordinarily would not cross paths with. It was also important to capture any small miracles along the way. Words cannot describe the support I felt from everyone.” Lorraine is also passionate about the fact that, in her eyes, the true heroes are the patients and their families. “We are doing our job, they were fighting every step of the way.” Lorraine states that her strong faith was vital to getting through the past few months. She remembers working with a patient in Surge B who was extubated. She whispered in the patient’s ear, “Thank you. You give me hope.”