This past weekend we had a baby transferred to our unit from an outside hospital. This baby's mother had been transferred to STC in critical condition several days before. The baby and mother had been separated since birth, thus, in turn, separating the extended family. The father stayed with the baby who was also critical while extended family held vigil at the mother’s bedside. The family made the difficult decision to withdraw life-sustaining measures on the baby and provide palliative care. They desperately wanted the mother and baby to be in the same hospital.
As the charge nurse, I chose Michelle to admit this baby because I knew her calm confident demeanor would greatly benefit this family. We made a compassionate care exception and allowed many visitors and extended family to visit and stay the night. The night shift staff took the baby to STC to have pictures taken with the mom and family. The next day Michelle assumed care for the baby and the family. Often times in nursing, especially critical care, we focus on assessment, vital signs, medication administration, and lab values. This baby didn't require that type of care. This baby and family required compassion and patience. Michelle reassured them about their decisions, lending an ear and a shoulder. She advocated for pain control as needed. She coordinated a trip to the healing garden and a photography session in our family lounge. She provided support to the siblings and offered resources and advice for the family for explaining and coping with the impending death. When the baby suddenly decompensated, she remained calm and placed him in his father's arms to peacefully pass away surrounded by family. She shed a tear with them and comforted them through the process. The family was extremely grateful for her care. Michelle demonstrated the true art of nursing.