written by Elizabeth Irvine
Elizabeth Irvine: nurse, educator and award-winning author. She is the founder of Truewellbeing, where you can find her books, jewelry and sign up for soulful workshops, with a new focus on virtual sessions.
Ijust got off the phone with my sister, Lisa. She is the Chief Nursing Officer for the University of Kansas Health System St Francis Campus—which means her role asks her to oversee about 700 staff. I was most recently in this hospital for the surprise birth of my niece and her husband’s (who is also a doctor at St Francis Campus) baby. Before that, my husband’s father had open-heart surgery here. It’s one of those kind of places that people are hard-working and friendly. You feel taken care of.
I called to check in with her (catching her on her drive home) after a typical 12 plus hour day, in a row. I know she is knee-deep in the thick of it. Trying to prepare for what must feel like a looming Tsunami about ready to make landfall. She’s intelligent, a compassionate listener and no stranger to working long stressful hours. That’s what nurses do.
I’ve Got Your Back
I asked her to share with me a little day-to-day of hospital life at the moment. She said our nurse’s morale is good. “One thing that makes me happy— we have implemented a buddy system. This means each nurse ‘has the other’s back’. For example, while dressing for isolation another buddy nurse makes sure, validates you, that your protective equipment is on properly. It builds a safe feeling knowing someone is with you, watching over you.”
Halo Effect—to See the Goodness
Lisa radiates positivity. She talked about the halo effect. By definition, the halo effect, “ is a form of cognitive bias which causes one part to make the whole seem more attractive or desirable”.
She told me there is part in all of this, that gives us the “pause”—through this, she feels it’s an awesome responsibility to be given. To keep patient’s, and her nurses safe. “This pandemic has brought us all together. The whole hospital staff (doctors, nurses, etc) have become a team. It’s really incredible to see the positive effects of teamwork, critical thinking, sharing, learning, strategizing how to make smart decisions— not to mention the coming together of the global community. In 2020, we have the ability to teleconference with other hospitals in all parts of the world. It creates an incredible sense of bringing us all together as a world”.
Sheltering In & Flatten The Curve
I told Lisa, I feel kind of helpless staying at home. She said on the contrary— to stay home is the smartest action anyone can take right now, as we just don’t have any other real defense but to flatten the curve. Obviously, there are people who need to show up for work, but if there is an option to stay put, it’s doing your part in a big way. In re-framing the importance of sheltering in I feel comforted. I encourage you to do the same. I know each of us can contribute in our own way— whether that is home-schooling your children, finding creative ways to work from home or avoiding an extra trip to the grocery store.
I come from a long line of nurses. My grandmother, my mom and my sister, we are all nurses. For me, I am no longer involved as a staff nurse but head the calling nonetheless:
Let me dedicate my life today,
in the care of those who come my way.
Let me touch each one with healing hand,
and the gentle art for which I stand.
And then tonight when the day is done,
Let me rest in peace,
If I’ve helped just one.