As the LCMH Palliative Care nurse, I travel from unit to unit and floor to floor and have had the great pleasure and honor to work with some amazing nurses here.
Recently, I was consulted to see a patient in the 3rd floor ICU; this patient had been admitted a couple of days prior and I believe this nurse had been taking care of her since her admission as she was on her "long stretch" of work days.
I have spoken with this nurse before and she has always been kind and open and caring. As I visited with this patient and her family daily, I also had a substantial amount of interaction with this nurse, collaborating with her trying to do the best thing for the patient and family. I observed this nurse interacting and communicating so calmly and compassionately with this family who was in a terribly heartbreaking situation and had awful decisions to make. She administered nursing care so tenderly to this young patient, keeping the room quiet and dark, pulling the curtain to give privacy to whichever parent was in the room with her at the time. I feel that she was truly exhibiting what it means to be a nurse.
On Wednesday of that week, I happened to be in the room with the patient and parents when this nurse came in and did something so remarkable that I will never forget. She came in holding something in her hands, and then proceeded to tell the parents that this was her last day at work for a while as she would be off for several days; she went on to tell them how honored she was to have been the nurse for their daughter. Both parents told them that she was a Godsend and how grateful and thankful they were to her and that they wanted to do something special for her. She then said that she also had wanted to do something special for them so she had used the ultrasound machine and recorded their daughter's heartbeat and made telemetry strips as well as printing them on colored paper for them. She played the heartbeat from her phone and then sent it to them on their phones. They were so very grateful and overwhelmed.
This patient was a 24-year-old who apparently developed cardiomyopathy, arrested at home, and was now in the ICU in a coma, just 4 months after having delivered a baby girl. Now one day the baby girl will be able to hear her mother's heartbeat. Needless to say, this was a heart-wrenching case and we see lots of them here but I'm sure that this nurse treated this patient as she does all of them-like her one and only patient. Despite the tragedy and loss that these parents have faced and will grieve for the rest of their lives, at least they will have the memory of a wonderful RN having cared for their daughter.