While many Pennsylvanians worry about their jobs, their children’s education, and the safety of their loved ones during COVID-19, nurses in the Commonwealth have other concerns. Nurses from across the state have shared their deep feelings about working during the pandemic with the Patient Safety Authority. Released during National Nurses Week, their stories reveal the depth of fear and anxiety, grief and guilt, gratitude and hope being felt throughout the profession as nurses put others before themselves, and show their strength, compassion, and sacrifice under extraordinary circumstances.
“I will never forget the army veteran, who pulled down his oxygen mask as he struggled to breathe and thanked me for working. He called me a ‘hero’ and told me to stay safe,” writes Julia R., a registered nurse (RN) at a Pittsburgh hospital. “This man went to war for our country, fought against terrorists on the battlefield, and yet he called me the hero. He has given me hope for the future of mankind.
“Little League has been cancelled. Summer parades, schools, graduations all have been cancelled,” she continues. “However conversations will not be cancelled. Relationships, family, love have not been cancelled. Hope and faith will not be cancelled.”
Alicia S., an OB/GYN nurse at a Lehigh Valley hospital, describes her anxiety when patients say they have visited New Jersey or New York. She writes that she fears for her family and is stressed and overwhelmed with her new responsibilities as a mother, now-teacher, and a nurse leader. But she is certain of one thing—that she will cherish every day with her family and will never take them for granted.
“We wanted to share the challenges and triumphs of nurses battling COVID-19 as a way to honor them during National Nurses Week and all month long,” explains Regina Hoffman, executive director of the PSA. “Reading their stories and seeing their raw emotions on paper is touching and inspiring. It is also therapeutic for healthcare workers who were already dealing with burnout, to accept and talk about their feelings under these extraordinary circumstances. We wanted to give nurses an outlet to do that.”