Working as a pediatric nurse leader requires patience, empathy, and the ability to adapt to rapidly changing situations. It has been incredibly challenging to care for our kids with chronic conditions in the midst of the COVID pandemic. When Rachel asked me to share our experience and to have the opportunity to tell our story, I was just thrilled. My team of over 50 nurses put their all into caring for our patient population. This article is for them - for the heros that walk the halls of our clinics and hospitals, caring for the lives of others.
While COVID has minimal direct negative impact to the physical health of the pediatric population, it has significantly impacted the world they are used to living in. Due to COVID restrictions, diabetic patients no longer have the stability of being in school where the nurse was a vital resource to ensure blood sugars were kept under control. Cystic Fibrosis and asthmatics no longer have someone present during the day (whether a teacher or nurse) to intervene when a breathing episode flares. To make matters worse, mental health patients spiral further into depression due to lack of interaction and motivation to get out of bed.
In the midst of these compounded issues, my team has stepped up to think creatively on how we can ensure our patients and families have what they need to live with a chronic condition through a pandemic with limited resources. While in-person visits for patients dropped sharply (from 200 visits/day pre-COVID to 20/day during COVID), the workload for nurses rose significantly. My nurses took on non-traditional healthcare tasks including a high load of virtual check-ins, face-time calls to connect with diabetic patients and their need for nutritional support, and to provide emotional and mental support to both parents and patients.
Working in healthcare is challenging, rewarding, frustrating, inspiring (I can’t begin to describe). Taking care of patients is what fuels us...but also drains us and sometimes to the detriment to our own health and wellbeing. Engaging my team to take care of themselves in the midst of this is something I’ve become incredibly passionate about over the last year.
Whether or not you are a healthcare worker, we all all need to find ways to care for ourselves. I encourage each of you to find ways to restore and renew your physical, mental and emotional health in ways that work for you. Because we cannot continue to care for others in the absence of caring for ourselves. Flostate provides fun, inclusive, accessible, and restorative classes and care. Today, take some restorative time for yourself. Restore and renew when you can. I know it’s tough but you can do it!
Dawn, BSN, RN, CPN