The Emergency Department in a Pediatric Level 1 Trauma Center is almost always a very busy place. The hustle and bustle bring to mind a busy street in a busy city-constant motion of multiple moving parts but controlled synchrony. There is no way to predict or control what situation presents itself next and often times there is little or no time to prepare. Through their education, training, and experiences, the ED staff are always ready for whatever comes through their doors. In places where there is potential for high volumes of people in combination with complex situations, strong leadership is key to the success of the operation. In my role as the Administrator on Duty, I depend heavily on all of the unit nursing leaders to support me in keeping the hospital running smoothly and the Emergency Department clinical leaders are often my go-to people. Leslie Browell is one of our ED Clinical Leaders, and I am always at ease when I know that she is at the ED helm. With her vast knowledge and clinical expertise, Leslie has helped me out of a tight spot more than a time or two.
Leslie has been a pediatric ED nurse for more than fifteen years. Often, when people work in places of high stress and see tragic and traumatic things happen on a regular basis, they can become hardened to it; it's an unconscious coping mechanism that our mind uses to protect us. Leslie isn't like that though, in spite of, or more likely because of, all of the situations that she has no doubt encountered, she remains a caring and compassionate nurse and leader. Those qualities of caring, compassion, and leadership were shining brightly within Leslie and her ED team in November when a tiny baby, just 24 weeks gestation was born at home and brought into our Emergency Department. Despite all efforts of the ED and NICU teams, the baby did not survive. As we learned more about the circumstances surrounding this baby's birth, we became aware that the baby was a twin and her mom and unborn sibling were across town at UPMC Magee. The conversation then became about how we could provide a way for the family to see their daughter, to hold her and love her and give her a name.
The Emergency Department does a great job of providing families whose children pass with remembrance treasures such as hand and footprints, locks of hair, professional portraits, and a memory box. All of those things were done for this baby and taken to the family. I am certain that they will cherish those mementos always. But Leslie gave the family something much bigger than all of those things. Through collaboration and conversation of the team, the decision was made for the baby to be taken to Magee to allow her family time to be with her.
The ED runs as a team and there are several nurses in leadership roles on each shift. For this shift, Leslie was in the role of what we refer to as Clinical Leader-1 with oversight for the entire ED, all patients, staff, and family members. The nurse in that role is really aware of and touching everything that is happening in one way or another. Although it was atypical for someone in that CL-1 role to leave the unit and I was surprised, the decision was made that Leslie would be the nurse to take the baby to Magee and then return with her to Children's Hospital. Leslie felt strongly that it needed to happen, and she was willing to assume the responsibility of safely and reverently performing the transport. The ED team rallied around her so that we could ensure continued safe and patient care and flow while she was away from the hospital and our hospital police transported Leslie and the baby.
I don't know this family and I won't ever know how things turned out for their unborn baby, but I do know that what Leslie gave them in taking their little angel to be with them is something they won't ever forget. I hope it gave them some peace to know that when they couldn't be there with her, at the end of her short life, a person with a servant's heart was there and held her like only a mother can until she could place her into the arms of her family.
Leslie is one of our ED Clinical Leaders. During one of her recent night shifts, we received a page stating we were getting a 24-week baby born at home in cardiac arrest. She helped to lead our team during the resuscitation. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, the patient passed away without any family present. The patient's mother was taken to Magee along with twin B who had not been delivered at home. She arranged for our police to transport her and the baby to Magee so that the family could have a proper goodbye. She bravely and compassionately held the mother's hand and supported the family during this tragic time. She even arranged for “now I lay me down to sleep” to take photos of the baby for the family. Her leadership, compassion, and strength were displayed despite dealing with her own grief on the anniversary of her father's death.