I would like to nominate my unit, the 4CWICU at Santa Monica. We have the most caring and conscientious group of people in the world. As our specialty is caring for Critically Ill patients, we understand that it is an expectation to have excellent critical thinking skills, phenomenal prioritization skills and great organizational and time management skills. Where I feel that we truly excel at is the compassion and care that we provide not only our patients and families, but each other as well. This is done as a team, regardless of who is actually taking care of the patient.
An example of the extra TLC we provide, is our response to weddings held in our unit. We have had one wedding with a patient who, unfortunately, was not going to survive his hospitalization. He proposed to his partner who immediately said yes and the plans were begun to prepare for the wedding. On the wedding day, one of our ACCP’s and an RN made decorations for the room. Another ACCP made boutonnieres for the groom and attendants. We utilized the wound camera to be photographers for the wedding and printed out the pictures for the wedding party. During the actual ceremony, the staff that were not immediately caring for the patient came together to be witnesses and join in the celebration. Both the patient and his new husband were overcome with tears of joy for the effort that the ICU team made in creating a “real wedding” at the bedside.
All my co-workers are precious gems. We pay close attention to our patients’ birthdays and when it is possible we sing “happy birthday” with a cupcake and candles in hand. The look on our patients’ face is priceless and some are even bought to tears while pretending to blow out candles. On one occasion, we had a terminally ill patient, who was quite young, but still very interactive. He loved his music and his gadgets. On his birthday, we decorated his room with tons of helium balloons, set up his music to play on a speaker, and got him a big birthday cake. We had more people in the room than we thought could fit. He was so moved it brought him, his mother, and his father to tears.
Every year our unit selects a patient and their family, even if the patient passed, and we collect money to provide them or their family with food and gift certificates for Christmas. We are so fortunate, because we always seem to get plenty of donations from the staff to add a little sunshine to someone else’s life.
One thing that is very important to me, and the reason I love my co-workers so dearly, is the special comradery that exists in our unit. I remember coming to work sad and broken, because my personal life was falling apart, and for the first time in years I did not want to be at work. As soon as I walked in the unit one of my co-workers gave me the warmest hug. She did not say a word and there was no need to, all my worries were laid aside and I was able to take care of our patients without reservation.
An example of how we care for each other is the consistent way we ensure that all patients are well cared for and no one is left “drowning”. We have had several travelers and float pool staff say how much they love working on our floor. One of our new hires actually chatted with the Unit Director and informed her how wonderful it is working in this environment. She told her “I have been working here for 4 months now and I am amazed that I have yet to do an admission or post-mortem care by myself!!” When an emergency occurs, we usually have to dismiss staff instead of looking for help. It is absolutely priceless to see all the nurses running in to help each other.
Both Day Shift and Night Shift have a group of people that are always happy and able to take a somber mood and turn it around. Their smiles, their thoughtfulness with checking in, and their witty senses of humor make them the jesters of our unit. It doesn’t matter how dark it gets, they always seem to find the silver lining. Several of our staff members are huggers- they share their love without reservation and truly have a warm and compassionate touch, should you ever need it.
I could go on forever telling you stories of all the heartwarming and compassionate gestures that my co-workers show towards each other, but it would turn in far too many pages. So let me conclude by telling you about our fearless leader, Coleen Wilson.
Coleen, our unit director, is stern, but gentle, kind of like a ‘gentle giant’ in all of her small stature. She wears several hats; she is serious when it comes to keeping us up to date on evidence based practice to protect our patients from infection and keep them safe. She constantly encourages us to earn our CCRN or apply for our CN3. Our growth and professional development is very important to her. But man oh man she runs out of tissue and chocolate quite often. Coleen always makes the time to listen, you can always talk to her about your most personal and intimate issues and she never uses it against you. She listens, encourages and rewards us for excellent patient care.
I have had such a bad year, breaking my toe, developing a DVT and PE and hurting my back. Without my manager and co-workers, I don’t know where I would be today. Their love and support has kept me going in the toughest of times.
The reason I am nominating our team is for the support and love that we give each other. As difficult as it is to see a patient take their last breath or the struggle it takes to save a life, I look forward to coming to work because I know I will never be alone when difficult situations arise.