I became a nurse 22 years ago because I love being able to help people when they are in need. I’m a single mom with two kids, and I transferred from Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center to Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center almost a year ago for a shorter commute and a better work-life balance. A few months later, we were hit by the COVID-19 pandemic where everyday life looks very different. .
With no cure for COVID, we’re working in a state of uncertainty. Every day requires a fine balance. None of us wants to take the virus home to our families, so we have to minimize our personal exposure while still being the primary nurse, the phlebotomist, the counselor and the substitute for family members and friends who can’t visit because of our no-visitor policy. Being without visitors takes an emotional toll on a patient, so we’re also sitting with them so they know they aren’t alone.
Our frontline nurses are heroes, and their anxiety is real. As managers, we’re supporting them by giving them the resources they need and working alongside them on the frontlines. If I expect them to show up, I have to show up and pitch in. There are some hard days. You go home and have a good cry, and that helps prepare you for another day.
We’re making sure our nurses have support for their anxiety, and we also have to manage our own personal anxiety. This is a marathon, not a sprint, so we have to keep ourselves physically and emotionally balanced to be here for the long haul. Every day I think about pacing myself so I don’t burn out.
The good news is that we’re seeing the sicker patients we treated from the first surge of COVID recover, which gives us hope. Our outcomes have been good. We also know more now about the virus than we knew at the beginning.
If you, your family and your friends have not been affected, it’s easy to think that COVID can’t be that bad, but it is. It’s very serious. Stay home, and if you have to go out, practice social distancing so we can all get to the finish line together.
Stephanice Stephen, RN, BSN
Nurse Manager, Medical and Surgical ICU
Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center