Pandemic adds special reason to say ‘thank you’ to nurses

Nurses Week offers opportunity to recognize 'what nurses are doing every day'

Nurses — they’re the ones on the front lines, helping to save lives.

The ones with the bravest faces. The ones who aren’t sure what each shift will hold but are still willing to meet every challenge presented, amid the most uncertain and unprecedented times.

Recently, Gary Adkisson, publisher of The Bismarck Tribune in North Dakota, was reminded of this.

Adkisson’s thank you

Each year, Adkisson organizes a celebration of nurses. Sanford Health is one of the sponsors of the event.

Married to a nurse, the avid cyclist knows the juggling act that comes with caring for patients. But it wasn’t until he had an unexpected injury that he experienced this firsthand.

Related: Thank a health care worker

The Adkissons were gearing up to ride on a tandem bike. Gary was outside waiting for his wife and noticed a section of snow on the driveway.

“I figured I’d knock that snow off the driveway. When I did, my left foot hit the ice and started sliding. My right foot was on dry ground, so it stayed where it was. As I began to kind of do the splits, I tried to shift my weight back, and my ankle snapped,” he said.

“I thought, yeah, this is painful.”

Adkisson went to the emergency room. When he and his wife arrived, he realized how much times had changed.

“The first thing they did was put masks on both of us. You don’t see that normally. That’s when it hits you that things are really different now.”

Despite the differences, Adkisson said one thing remained the same: Sanford Health nurses caring for the whole patient.

“Everybody was really great and very nice. I think they understood that things are different, so they tried to make that, being different, as comforting as possible.”

Adkisson said the staff added levity to his situation.

“The ankle looked pretty crazy. My foot was sticking off at about a ninety degree angle. I actually asked them if they would take a couple pictures for me. They laughed about it, and said, ‘yeah, you’re right. This is pretty bad.'”

“They were just engaging and friendly. It made me comfortable and everything easier to deal with.”

Hard work during hard times

Adkisson isn’t the only one impressed with how nurses have handled the pandemic.

In a Sanford Health News live interview, chief nursing officer Meghan Goldammer commended not only nurses but the entire care team.

“It takes a village to care for our patients, and we recognize that. We work as such teams here at Sanford,” she said.

“Nurses specifically, they are that link to the patient 24/7. They’re the ones that are always there with them. The courage they’re displaying, the dedication to their profession and the resiliency of what they’re having to go through, it’s amazing to see,” Goldammer said.

Goldammer added that National Nurses Week comes at an interesting time, when the pandemic has added intensity to a job that’s already high-stress. Many nurses have added responsibilities, juggling even more work during an unprecedented, and unknown, time. Schedules have changed dramatically for others, depending on each clinic’s need.

“This week has always been important, but this year it’s different,” Goldammer said. “In the midst of nurses being on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, it almost feels inadequate to say ‘Happy Nurses Week’ right now. It’s a somber time.”

Somber as it may be, the pandemic has further illuminated nurses’ work ethic, she said.

“I think the good that’s coming out of this is people are really recognizing what nurses are doing every day. People have always had a really strong connection to nurses. They understand the heart and soul of the nurse,” Goldammer added.

“I think they’re starting to see what they actually do when they put on their scrubs everyday and go into work. It’s been good for the public to see that and, I think, more than ever, rally around them and support them, and cheer them on from the sidelines.”

Saying thanks

Throughout the pandemic, many Sanford Health nurses have been thanking, and offering up praise, to one another. 

Sanford Health has also offered extra support and resources for things like child care or, if it’s needed, an employee crisis fund.

Employees of the health organization have one another’s back, but they need outside support more than ever.

“Saying thank you, it puts an immediate smile on someone’s face. It warms their heart. It lifts their spirits. If they’ve had a bad day, or even a good day, just to know that they are recognized for what they’re doing, and the sacrifice they’re making. Many have kids at home or family at home because they aren’t working right now, and they’re the ones that are having get up every day and go into work and take care of patients,” Goldammer said.

“People that go into nursing, they often say it’s a calling. I think people understand that now. The way they’re seeing nurses just raise their hands and wanting to come in and be there for our patients and be there for our health system as we navigate through this. It’s times like these that people’s true colors shine, and they’re shining bright right now,” she added.

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Posted In Bismarck, Coronavirus, Faces of Sanford Health, Health Care Heroes

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