My close friend, Maggie, was recently admitted to 7 Main at Shadyside Hospital. Maggie had a serious illness that was progressing rapidly and causing increasing pain. She passed away within one week of her admittance and the loss was felt by many in the community and her family. I wanted to share this story of how our staff touches others, and even if the health outcome is not what we hoped for, we can still make a difference.
The second night that Maggie was on 7 Main, she was experiencing increasing levels of pain. Her sister had just arrived from out of state and was exhausted from traveling. We agreed that I would stay with Maggie overnight, as we did not want her to be alone. Shift change started, it was late at night, and a young man with dark hair entered her room. He looked awfully young to me and I was worried about how Maggie was going to make it through the night with her pain. Justin was just starting his stretch of nights on the night shift. He introduced himself and very professionally began his assessment of Maggie's current state. Maggie had a way of engaging people, and while he was preparing her medications, she asked him where he went to school. He said "actually, this in my second career, I used to be a Librarian".
Well, Maggie lite-up, looked at me and said "Oh!!" I couldn't believe it and said "tell him what you do Maggie". "Well", she says "I used to teach at Pitt and I chaired the department of library science at Pitt!" Maggie was also a master story teller, published author, one of the founding members of Beginning with Books and a consultant for "Mister Rogers Neighborhood". I could not believe that her nurse was a former librarian and just happened to be assigned to Maggie. They chatted and Maggie was so happy to talk about books and libraries. She relaxed and was happy to meet a kindred spirit. Justin (who must not have been that young if this was his second career!) was so compassionate, caring and respectful, as were many others on 7 Main.
Justin is an exceptional nurse and he brought a ray of brightness into Maggie's last days. He took the time to ask the best way to help, listened carefully and gave Maggie his full attention. He was present for her, he connected with her and made her smile. I will always remember the librarian-nurse and how he touched my friend, Maggie and made her nights less frightening.