As National Nurses Week 2020 wraps up, [ 2 one 5 ] Creative is privileged to reflect on conversations we’ve had with the nurses in our lives. Through these conversations with nurses of all experience levels, a major theme was revealed: that being a nurse is something that doesn’t turn off. RN Karen Papanier said it best: “Nursing is not a job, it’s a lifestyle.”
Nurses worry. Nurses care. Nurses rise to the occasion. Scrubs or no scrubs, they better the lives around them. 2020 has severely amplified the demand for nurses, and they’ve answered the call once again. From setting up supportive phone chats to flying across the country to the epicenter of the pandemic, the nurses we know have proven that the RN/BSN lifestyle is a wonderful combination of toughness, thoughtfulness, and intelligence.
Below you’ll get a small glimpse into the lives of six featured nurses. Hats off to Tedi Greenley, Kate Flothmeier, Caitlin Adams, Peggy Nelms, Liat Greenwood, and Karen Papanier. From all of us at [ 2 one 5 ] Creative, thank you!
#1 Tedi Greenley – Operating Room RN, Scranton, PA
About Tedi: Mama, Sister, Daughter, Wife, Sarcastic, Pisces, Devoted, Empathetic, Indecisive.
Favorite things: Pizza, Music, Binge Watching Shows, Naps, Laughter, Flowers, My Dogs Lilly & Parker, Sunshine, and Family Adventures.
Love telling people: Anything about my kids and that I was 39 weeks pregnant when I took my nursing boards.
Daily responsibilities: I’m an RN (circulator) in an OR at a level 2 trauma center. Spend my day doing all types of surgeries–from general to ortho, trauma, to neuro! I do it all!
Wish people understood about nursing: How very hardworking, caring, and stressful nursing is. Especially in the OR, I spend my time being your advocate during surgery, whether it’s the best or worst day of your life.
On COVID-19: Elective surgeries have stopped, we have only been doing surgeries that are life-saving or emergent. We always wear PPE, but now we’re extremely cautious for the safety of ourselves and our patients.
We [co-workers] have each other’s backs during this crazy time.
#2 Kate Flothmeier – RN – Mt. Laurel, NJ
About Kate: Mother, Friend, Caregiver, Daughter of Nurse, Introvert, Runner.
Favorite things: YA Fantasy Novels, Running, Star Trek, This Is Us, Chocolate, and Coffee.
I love running. It gives me an amazing sense of pride and accomplishment.
Daily responsibilities: I am a home care nurse. I go into people’s homes to educate them about their disease processes. I try to keep them from going back into the hospital.
What do you wish more people understood: Preventative medicine is the best medicine. Take care of yourself from the start.
On COVID-19: I have to wear a mask, gloves, and goggles with all patients. Most of my visit is done over the phone. It feels cold and sterile. I miss connecting with people.
#3 Caitlin Adams – RN
Home: Sandpoint, Idaho | Work: Newport, Washington & (Currently) The Bronx, NY
About Caitlin: Nurse, Dog Mama, Adventure Seeker, Nature Lover, Lover Of Movement.
Favorite things: Snowboarding, Paddle Boarding, Hiking, Mountain Biking, Yoga, Camping
Beer, Mexican Food, Sunsets, Traveling, and Snuggling Puppies.
I’m not really too social anyway: social distance is my normal distance lol.
Daily responsibilities: My role [Newport, Washington: Emergency Room RN] is to triage the patient coming in, start IVs, draw labs, give medications and whatever else the patient may need; wound care, respiratory management etc.
Currently, I’m on a 21-day assignment working at a hospital in The Bronx. Around 4,000 nurses have been sent to New York City to help with the surge of patients. I have mostly been on the Med. Surg. floor working with COVID patients, working every day, 12-hour shifts. There are fewer patients in the hospital now as some are dying, but also many patients are being discharged! It’s very hard for the patients and their families that they can not visit at this time. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to come assist and work alongside the staff in New York.
On COVID-19: When I came to New York, everything became real. It is true that you can’t really understand something until you see it or it affects you. There are some people who say “COVID is not real.” There are people who say, “What’s the big deal, the flu is worse?!” These people have not been affected. They have not had any family or friends die. They have not seen patients in the ICU on ventilators with little hope. They have not held the hands of those dying of this disease. COVID is scary. Plain and simple. I am scared of getting it. I practice safety precautions and always wear my PPE when taking care of my COVID patients. I try my best and hope I will not be in the same situation as my patients so I may continue to help.
Things you wish people knew: I want the public to be smart: to wear masks and to continue to keep a safe distance. We need to pretend we are sick (even though we do not feel sick). The virus can take up to two weeks to show symptoms! We could be infected and not know. I look forward to a time with no fear of this virus but for now fear is good. Fear keeps us aware of our actions and can keep us practicing safe measures.
New York City has been amazing to healthcare workers. I have seen police and firemen and EMS in large numbers show up to honor the healthcare workers. There are hot meal donations every day to healthcare workers! The agency nurses are staying in hotels with no kitchen or microwave so the food donations are so nice!
#4 Peggy Nelms – RN, Recovery Room
Home: Warrington, PA
Work: Huntingdon Valley, PA
About Peggy: Wife, Mother, Nurse, Friend, Proud Grandmother, Creative.
Favorite things: My Big Family, My Friends, My Job and the People I Work With,
Chocolate, Sitting On the Porch With a Cup Of Tea, Projects That Have a Positive Impact On Life Around Me.
I love being in the zone, working out, and being energized by that.
Responsibilities: [In the pre-op area] I bring patients in, get them prepped for surgery, instruct them on what’s to come, and make sure they’ve done all procedurals. In post-op, I treat them with medicines, make changes, and give instructions on how to move forward.
On nurses: We’ve organized a phone chat where we share ideas on celebrating birthdays, exercise clubs, and ways to support each other in this tough time.
How people can help: The blood drive is huge right now. It’s so important because people have clotting issues. There are safe ways to donate through the Red Cross. It’s also easy and helpful to donate PPE equipment or money toward PPE equipment. There will always be a need, and this will help healthcare workers feel safer at work.
On COVID-19: It was inevitable because money doesn’t go to pandemic preparedness. Now it will hopefully become a priority. At some point they’ll come up with a vaccine, but another COVID may come. Viruses mutate and change, so we need to be prepared.
Everything is so uncertain, sure I’m negative today, but that can change over the weekend. So this will change how we [nurses] do everything.
Something you wish people understood: I don’t know if you can truly understand what it’s like to have someone’s life in your hands. It’s a terrible feeling when you can’t help someone, and that’s happening so frequently right now. This is not the norm–usually people get sick and you see them recover.
Also, I don’t think people realize the mental strain of what’s going on (unless it’s your family member). I feel guilty that I can’t help more, and I worry about other nurses in the field. It’s very challenging to deal with a very sick patient on any day, but now it’s day in and day out.
My heart breaks for the new nurses. It’s like a war zone they’re getting thrown into as they’re still learning the ropes.
#5 Liat Greenwood – BSN, RN
Home: Philadelphia, PA
Work: Philadelphia, PA
About Liat: Nurse, Scientist, Leader, Curious, Thoughtful, Problem Solver, Caring, Listener, Scuba Diver, and Opera Singer!
Favorite things: Hosting Holiday Meals, Board Games, Netflix (Currently Rewatching Grey’s Anatomy and The Midwife For the Umpteenth Time), Roommates (Especially the Support Right Now!)
I love being a bedside nurse! But something that’s great about the flexibility and diversity of nursing as a profession is that I am also in school part-time getting my Doctor of Nursing Practice degree in nurse-midwifery.
Daily responsibilities: I’m a liver transplant nurse, so my relationship with my patients and their families really starts when they first come into the hospital with liver problems and the transplant is considered as an option. I’ll continue to see the same patients if we find a liver for them and see them off right before their surgery with some words of hope and encouragement. I’ll care for those same patients if they come back, even years later, post-transplant for rejection or unrelated health problems.
Wish people understood: I never really stop being a nurse; I may not be at work right that moment, but I continually think about my patients and their families.
Since COVID 19: When COVID-19 first hit, it was a scary time for my patients, since they are immunocompromised. We were one of the first units in my hospital to treat COVID-19 positive patients. A few weeks into the crisis we stopped doing transplant work ups and my unit became a COVID-19 unit. Due to understaffing and conservation of PPE, I now care for more patients on the average night than I used to, and the acuity (how sick they are) is higher. And all those pictures you see of face marks after a long shift of continual mask wearing are real.
I really appreciate all the organizations out there doing their best to help healthcare providers. Mostly, I am grateful to the American Nurses Association for the policy work they’re doing to make sure it is as safe as possible for me to go to work.
#6 Karen Papanier – RN, Healthcare Case Study Manger
Piscataway, New Jersey
About Karen: Pediatric Nurse, Mom, Dog Mom of Two Wheatons, Cook, Great Sense of Humor, Love to Laugh, History Buff, Creative, and Caring.
Favorite things: Playing Guitar, the Arts, Yankees Fan, Love to Read, Word Games, Knitting, Walking the Dogs, Jersey Shore, History Lover, Shopping, Photography, and Old Movies.
I love and brag about my kids. I love my dogs. I love what I do, I’ve been a nurse since 1983.
Daily responsibilities: I work the nightshift on the Peds unit. I care for children and parents in an acute care setting. From admission through discharge, caring for their immediate health needs, anticipating future health needs, teaching the families how to care for their child at home, all while performing nursing interventions, administering medications, and constantly assessing the patient.
Something you wish people understood: Nursing is not a job, it’s a lifestyle.
SINCE COVID-19: I had to shift my focus from caring for children and families to caring for more adults being affected by the COVID-19 virus with different degrees of severity.
People in the community have been donating meals and coffee for nurses who are unable to take a break.
Once again thank you to all of our featured nurses! We appreciate your hard work and dedication more than words can say.
To donate PPE, or contribute to the purchase of PPE for medical personnel, visit HumankindNOW.