Wednesday, May 6, was Nurses Day 2020. But during a health pandemic with packed emergency departments and increased death tolls, nurses express that every day feels like Nurses …
Wednesday, May 6, was Nurses Day 2020. But during a health pandemic with packed emergency departments and increased death tolls, nurses express that every day feels like Nurses Day.
“Everybody that works at the hospital has been shown such kindness and appreciation by not only leadership in our hospital and in Northwell [Health], but the community has shown such an outpouring of support,” said Jennifer Zeplin, the director of the emergency department at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore. “It has felt like Nurses Day for quite a while now.”
The same notion was expressed by nurses at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip. Nurses in its emergency department said that work during this pandemic is like nothing they have experienced before.
“The amount of really sick patients...it has been overwhelming,” said Stephanie McAuley, an ED nurse at Good Sam. “Patients are passing away. We have young patients who are really sick. We have to call families and talk to them and let them know what is going on. It has been hard on all of us. There have been days where we have cried, and we have cried with family members.”
Another ED nurse at Good Sam, Denise DeVoe, said that she has not experienced a situation this tough in her time as a nurse, either. DeVoe, who has been a nurse for 24 years, said she has worked extensively in a neonatal ICU, surgical ICU, and in the emergency department.
“The last six weeks have, by far, been the saddest of my career, DeVoe said. “I work with such a great group of people: nurses, nursing assistants, techs, physicians, leadership. We have all come together during this time in raising each other up. Emergency room nurses are strong. We tend to have a tough outer shell because we need to. We see hard things daily, weekly, monthly...but I think it is just the sheer volume, and just seeing it day after day.”
However, DeVoe also noted the appreciation shown not only by leadership, but the community. Upon the thought of nurses being considered superheroes during a health pandemic, DeVoe responded with modesty.
“We would never describe ourselves that way, but that is actually what we do every day. That is what makes our job rewarding — that in some way, you have been able to help somebody,” she said. “Even if the outcome of the patient in the emergency room can be traumatic, if you cannot save that patient, the next piece of it is usually we are able to comfort the family, and even that is missing during this time.”
Nurses in 2020 are not only risking their physical health but mental health, considering the (at this point) inevitable increase in deaths. That is why nurses and the community are expressing the necessity for seeking the positive, especially during a health pandemic.
“Everyone is looking for the positive. Even though there is a lot of [death] and people struggling, there are a lot of people recovering, too,” McAuley said. “They play songs when they are leaving like ‘Here Comes the Sun,’ and nurses get to roll the patient out.”
The community has expressed extreme gratitude toward the nurses during this time, too.
“It has been really humbling to [see] the amount of gratitude and respect that nursing has been given during this time. It is definitely needed to help us keep going, so it has been so appreciated by myself and my staff,” said Zeplin. “Even the camaraderie between all the departments in the hospital, everyone has shown appreciation to other departments in one way or another.”
Both hospitals have expressed that they will be celebrating their nurses. A spokesperson for Good Samaritan Hospital said Nurses Week will be handled differently this year, considering the necessity of social distancing.
“Instead, we will [be] hanging beautiful celebratory banners and balloon bouquets at the front and back entrances. In addition, our dietary staff will be rounding on both shifts each day/evening with ‘goodies’ for the staff to enjoy,” the spokesperson said.
RJ Civello, the chief nursing officer and associate executive director at Southside Hospital, said a red-carpet event occurred on Wednesday.
“We are so grateful to our nurses every day and especially during this pandemic as they have gone above and beyond the call of duty,” said Civello. “Having 2020 be the year of the nurse is appropriate. Thank you to all our nursing staff for all they’ve done, particularly during this challenging time.”
Nurses Day in 2020, or the appreciation of nurses, has been expressed more so than years prior. But nurses are appreciated for their everyday duties regardless of a health pandemic. On a normal day, in a normal time, a nurse’s job maintains the same end goal for the patients they tend to: Their job is to improve the health of those in need and save the lives of those who are at risk.