A Team that Has Each Other’s Backs – And Yours, Too
Emergency medical providers are trained to respond with skill and compassion to any situation. During the pandemic, the medical staff at Lahey’s Joseph C. Corkery, MD, Emergency Center is responding just that way, as they are experiencing the expected surge of COVID-19 patients firsthand. The contagious virus has changed everyday life, not just for patients, but for the people who treat them.
Staff has to enter and leave through the back door. They spend time donning personal protective equipment (PPE) from head to toe. Because they’re covered up, the nurses have also started writing their names on their PPE, so that patients can at least know the person with whom they’re talking.
The hardest part is that the patients can’t have visitors, said Kathleen Chenery, RN, a nurse in Lahey’s Emergency Department. One family member who called the ED asked Kathleen to blow her uncle a kiss from the doorway, because she couldn’t. Of course, she obliged.
In order to celebrate each COVID-19 patient’s recovery and the healthcare workers who helped him or her, the hospital instituted “Code Rocky.” When someone is being discharged, the hospital’s operator will announce, “Code Rocky” over the intercom and play the theme from the movie “Rocky.” “If you beat [COVID-19], you get to run down the steps like in Philadelphia,” Kathleen explained with a laugh, referencing the iconic movie sequence. “It’s the little things.”
The community has turned out to support the staff, too. Food donations have been coming in fast and furious. One night, taking a cue from the New Yorkers who lean out their windows to clap and cheer at 7 p.m. every night, a group gathered outside of Lahey’s ED to bang pots and pans to celebrate the day shift workers as they were leaving.
“We have a really good team here,” said Casey Eisenhauer, BSN, RN. “Everybody has each other’s backs in this ER.”
Kathleen had one piece of advice for people out there who are concerned about the spread of the coronavirus. “Just take care of yourself. Take care of your loved ones. And if you can’t, we will.”