“It’s who we are as caregivers,” WellSpan Health officials explain in this story about how caregivers from area hospitals
The days are long. The patients are critically ill. Teams are exhausted.
Yet, WellSpan caregivers are digging deep and finding remarkable ways to show compassion, even on the darkest days. This is a gift they give others and ultimately, they have discovered, themselves.
“I am incredibly proud of our nursing teams who find a way to continue to go above and beyond after many challenging months,” said Kris O’Shea; senior vice president and chief nursing executive at WellSpan Health. “They do this humbly and routinely, every shift, every day. This truly showcases the extraordinary value of nursing in the care of patients; especially during the Year of the Nurse and Midwife.”
Communication in Chambersburg
Elyse Fisler drove to a Chambersburg man’s home two days in a row, including on a Saturday morning. She wanted to help him communicate via Zoom with his critically ill wife of 50-plus years; a patient at Chambersburg Hospital. The man wanted to see her face but told hospital officials he was unable to handle the Facetime technology, noting that he had a “dumb phone.
Fisler, chief nursing officer at CH, heard about the man; and volunteered to take her laptop to the man’s home and set up the call for him.
The man wept the entire time he spoke to his wife, overcome with emotion to be able to see her face, Fisler said.
“Oh my, I think it was a bigger blessing to me than it was to him,” she said. “To be able to do something like that for someone was so nice. Sometimes we feel so helpless about patients, and we feel like we can’t fix this challenging pandemic. It was very nice to be able to offer some comfort and relief to someone.”
Final moments in Ephrata
WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital staff united a couple on Thanksgiving Day. Both were hospitalized with COVID-19 who had been unable to see each other. The husband was not doing well. Staff transported the wife in a wheelchair to her husband’s room, so they could eat dinner together.
“She had tears in her eyes when she saw him,” said Kathleen Baier, the ICU charge nurse that evening.
After 45 minutes, the husband suddenly became unresponsive and died. The heartbroken wife was grateful she got to share a final meal with him and see him one last time. She later told their daughter, “An angel came and took me to see dad.”
Also, at Ephrata, hospitalists, the Intensive Care Unit team and others worked to put a husband and wife, both ill with COVID-19, into the same room as their conditions deteriorated. The pair died within a short time of each other, together at the very end.
York special deliveries
Two nursing assistants at WellSpan York Hospital went out of their way to make sure patients had the food and drink they enjoyed; something that is so important to people in the hospital.
One nursing assistant traveled all over the hospital to find orange soda in a vending machine, to supply the wish of a dying patient. Another nursing assistant noticed a patient was not eating and took it upon herself to call the patient’s son to see if she could find a specific food that the patient would enjoy.
The son explained that his mother would only eat certain types of foods due to her cultural beliefs but that family members were unable to bring the food to the hospital due to the visitation restrictions. The nursing assistant arranged to meet the son outside of the hospital and pick up the food, so she could deliver it to the patient.
Pep rally at a window in Lebanon
At WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital, a nurse was able to wheel a COVID-19 patient, hooked up to breathing equipment, over to a window so he could see his wife and children, standing outside with signs and waving.
The nurse and the man wept together as the family enjoyed the moments, so glad to see each other’s faces.
“We know that our colleagues at every hospital are showing their love and care for patients in many ways,” said Kelly Smith, senior director of nursing services at WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital. “It’s who we are as caregivers. It lifts our patients up. And it lifts us up.”