I am a hospice nurse at Morristown Medical Center, so in March when the pandemic was really starting to pick up I was asked if I would be willing to work on a covid unit, and I’m going to share a bit about this experience. This new unit was intended for patients who, for the most part, were not going to survive. My initial thought was to very quickly decline, but I soon felt the Lord leading me to accept this new challenge. So I said yes, during a time when great stress and anxiety was gripping everyone at the hospital as we all tried to wrap our heads around what would be our new norm.
Very quickly, nurses and doctors from all parts of Atlantic Health were thrown into these units with very little training, to help patients with a disease we knew very little about. Units were converted overnight to negative pressure rooms to try to protect the staff from this deadly disease and somehow, in the midst of it all, I felt a great peace in my heart about the decision.
Stepping onto our new unit with a group of staff members who mostly did not know each other would normally be a quite stressful experience, but every day as I worked on that floor I found myself feeling grateful for the amazing group of nurses we had, and the group only continued to amaze me each day after. We all really enjoyed getting to know each other and the great comradery that was built really made what we did a little bit easier.
One of the hardest parts of this experience was that these people who were dying did not get to have their families by their side. Staff did everything we could to ease our patients’ suffering, but it only added to the stress. I found, however, that all the nurses truly cared about their patients and would often put their own health at risk to spend extra time in these rooms comforting and caring for their patients.
As a hospice nurse, I have seen many beautiful deaths where I know the Lord was present in these rooms. One patient I had in the last year was a man in his 50’s with cancer; he did not have any family here and very few visitors. The priest came every day to see him and give him communion, and during his last day on this earth as I was spending time with him, I noticed that between tremendous pain and suffering, he would have moments where his face started beaming as he looked up. I know he was seeing the Lord right there in that room! After his death I was speaking with the priest who visited him daily, and he told me that he asked this man how he was doing one day, to which he response was, “the nights get very lonely, but Jesus comes and sits with me.” That phrase often came back to me when I felt sadness that our patients had to be alone, and I believe that the Lord would never leave these patients to suffer alone, but would stay at their bedsides holding their hands to glory.
I believe the Lord is working in many different areas of each of our lives through this trial, and we may never know all the good that has come from this tragedy. I ask you to continue to pray for all the healthcare workers, as I know many doctors and nurses have and will experience some form of post traumatic stress from the things they saw and experienced. Thank you for all the prayers, I know I have drawn great grace and strength from them. Stay well!
- Jane, People of Hope Member
Article from our May 31st Pentecost Bulletin. Click Here to access the full bulletin.