May 14, 2020
Sun City Center, Florida – South Bay Hospital caregivers celebrated National Nurses Week, May 6 through 12, coming together to recognize the extraordinary effort of the hospital's nurses during an unprecedented time in healthcare.
“Our nurses are exceptionally skilled and work closely with each other as an integrated team,” said Marcy Frisina, the Chief Nursing Officer at South Bay Hospital. “They pour themselves into each patient and empathize with the patient's family. We have experienced some miraculous stories here and each one of our caregivers plays a critical role in providing the safe and healing environment that our patients need.”
Most recently, the hospital's nurses celebrated with some patients that recovered after battling COVID–19.
“It was brilliant the other day when he spoke to me,” said Natasha Bhagwandin-Boodhoo, RN, a nurse in the South Bay Hospital Intensive Care Unit (ICU). She had spent the previous 37 days caring for a patient who was critically ill battling COVID-19 and for most of the time required a ventilator.
“I asked if he remembered me and he said, 'by your face no, because you are all in masks, but I'll never forget your voice.'”
The nurses in the ICU described the impact that it has on each of them as they watch patients who have battled the novel coronavirus recover from the brink of death and slowly become healthy enough to leave the hospital.
“It is amazing. It is heartwarming and bittersweet,” said Samantha Kaaa, RN, a nurse in the ICU at South Bay Hospital reflecting on how much the nurses connect with each patient while providing care. “It is a great feeling when they are healthy enough to leave. It is a win.”
Nurses like Bhagwandin-Boodhoo and Kaaa are covering up from head to toe for each twelve-hour shift. They change their clothes completely when they arrive to the unit and then again before they leave. They put on additional protective gowns, masks and shields prior to entering a room with a COVID–19 patient.
“It can be exhausting and physically demanding,” said Kaaa. “It is like wearing a hot suit around all day. You sweat and sweat, but it is so worth it and something I wouldn't change in order to help the people in those rooms.”
South Bay Hospital's culture has been described as 'family-like' in the way caregivers treat each other and the patients arriving to the hospital.
“When I first came here people told me that it felt like they were taking care of family,” said Bhagwandin-Boodhoo. “I thought that sounded made up. But now I know what we do here and it is completely different than any other healthcare I've ever done. We treat each other like family. And we treat our patients like family.”
Bhagwandin-Boodhoo recalls wanting to work in healthcare as a child. A family doctor inspired her and as she started college she realized being able to connect with each patient was extremely important to her.
“Our ICU nurses feel that the families are their patients as well. The more our nurses can keep the family informed the more comfortable they will feel about their loved ones receiving care here,” said Pam Schlicher, RN, Director of the Intensive Care Unit at South Bay Hospital. “Our nurses are truly compassionate about what they do.”
Current safety requirements restrict families from visiting patients in the hospital. Schlicher stresses this makes their job even more important.
“I think that every day in most of our nursing careers we deal with patients with infectious diseases,” said Schlicher. “We know how to do that. However, in this day and time we deal with a very large quantity of patients that we have to gown up and get ready to see. We are not seeing the families at the patient's bedside right now, which does usually comfort our patients and make them feel more relaxed. That means it becomes even more important that we offer compassionate care and connect with each patient even more than we normally do.”
The care across the hospital from the time a patient enters the Emergency Department to arriving to the ICU if that patient is critical, Schlicher says is consistent and filled with compassion. She describes the expertise her caregivers have as well as the level of trust she has in her team. But she underscores that the real magic at South Bay Hospital is the overwhelming love the staff brings in their care of each patient.