Erin Harr
March 2021
Erin
Harr
,
RN
Stem Cell Inpatient
University of Virginia Health

 

 

 

Erin took it upon herself to have a braiding pick/comb purchased and then carefully unsnarling L's hair one strand at a time over a period of multiple days, standing by L's bed whenever her nursing duties would permit.

My wife was hospitalized for 48 days after a diagnosis of APML. She suffered significant complications from her leukemia, including multiple strokes and likely differentiation syndrome. She spent almost three weeks in the MICU before returning to the Oncology ward and then being discharged to Hospice in late January where she passed away shortly thereafter.

Her care at UVA was exemplary, both on 8 West and the MICU. I was there daily as a visitor until all visitors were barred and I witnessed this extraordinary treatment firsthand. With almost no exceptions, she - and I - were treated professionally, respectfully, and with loving care by all the doctors and nurses who cared for her. But with this high level of care as the norm, the care provided by RN Erin Harr stood out.
Erin was her nurse on at least three or four occasions. Erin performed the standard "nursely" duties cheerfully and well, making sure that L was comfortable, turned, and repositioned regularly. But she also seemed to have a special place in her heart for L. She spoke to her regularly, making sure that L's favorite music I had arranged on L's cell phone was played regularly or, if not, that L was able to watch her favorite HGTV shows. But she went far beyond her basic duties when she took it upon herself to comb and arrange L's hair, which was a gooey, snarled mess after two EEG sessions and being bed-bound for many weeks. Erin took it upon herself to have a braiding pick/comb purchased and then carefully unsnarling L's hair one strand at a time over a period of multiple days, standing by L's bed whenever her nursing duties would permit, and slowly making L's hair look really nice.

Given L's cognitive deficits while she was under Erin's care, it was unlikely that L would be seen in public again or need to have her hair look so good. But all of Erin's work did seem to make a difference to L, who seemed to appreciate it. It certainly made a difference to me as her husband sitting with her every day, and I believe it made a difference to her sons, who were finally able to visit with L in Hospice after she was discharged from UVA. I was particularly touched that Erin, some days after I could no longer visit and shortly before L's discharge, called me to ask my permission to cut the last snarled part of L's hair. Erin had managed to untangle all of L's hair except this last patch close to her head, and she was unable to untangle this last part without hurting L.

Erin also eagerly helped the various therapists as they worked with L. When I didn't understand some of the treatments that L was receiving or some of the options we were facing, Erin would answer my questions with unvarnished but caring responses. When I was "banished" from the hospital due to new Covid procedures, Erin suggested that I leave notes for the nurses letting them know L's likes and dislikes and providing background information about L and her life and career so that the nurses could talk to L about them. I was particularly glad when I learned that Erin was her nurse the morning L was discharged from the hospital and transported to DC. She made sure that all of L's belongings, especially the string of stars that her grandson had made and which was hanging in her window, were carefully packed up and sent to DC with her. And Erin called me when L actually left UVA so that we would know when to expect her in DC. It seemed as if she was caring for a member of her own family, and words are insufficient to adequately thank her.