Page 16 - HealthcareNews May/June 2021
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   Lindsey Gamble says nurses were pushed to the limit during COVID, and the work of helping people through the pandemic didn’t stop when the workday did.
mentally, or emotionally ready until you just do it.”
While COVID has prompted some to leave the profession for various reasons
— including everything from work/life balance matters and post-traumatic stress, thus creating staffing issues on top of everything else — those who have remained have found the pandemic a stern test, but also a chance to learn and grow.
Those we spoke with had innumerable stories about nurses moving well beyond their assigned departments and comfort zones and stepping forward to do whatever was necessary, all while also balancing work and life, dealing with unknowns and constantly changing rules and protocols, donning and doffing PPE, and working even more hours than normal.
“We had to shift and pivot quickly and do what wedoonthefly—anditwasawhirlwind.We changed how we do things on a day-to-day basis, and creativity was a key.”
“People worked harder than I think they have ever worked in their lives,” said Desai, noting there was some attrition as the pandemic worsened (more on that later).
They also told stories about how nurses became liaisons between patients and their families at a time when they often couldn’t be together in the same room, and made sure that no one died alone.
“It was a very emotional time,” said Christine Klucznik, chief Nursing officer and vice president of Patient Care Services at Baystate Health, who choked back tears while recalling how nurses stepped forward under these difficult circum- stances. “We had so many people write to us about how this nurse or that nurse was there for them. They knew that their loved one was not going to pass alone; someone was going to be there with them.”
For those administering nursing staffs, this has been a stern test as well, a time to put all the experience they have to work, but also collaborate with others to find new ways to do things and cope with a situation the likes of which no one has had any experience.
“Everyone was scared inside,” said Gamble, who assumed that role just a month before COVID arrived in Western Mass. in March 2020. “But I needed to be that leader; you can’t react and show you’re afraid or that you don’t know what’s happening when you walk on a unit. Just having that calm presence and that sentiment — ‘I don’t know, but I’m going to find out; we will make this bet- ter’ — and just listening ... that’s what they needed from me the most.”
Overall, those we spoke with said this is a time (yes, the present tense is still very apt) to collaborate and innovate as never before, and, as Gamble said, do a

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