Healthcare Heroes: Sean Hurley, CRNA

New Teams Draw on Collective Strength, Trust

Staff from the operating rooms and other units have been deployed  to help in the Emergency Department and Intensive Care Units (ICUs) at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sean Hurley, CRNA, says the teamwork he has seen in the ICU is an inspiration during what has been a tough time for so many.

As a certified registered nurse anesthetist, Sean is used to preparing patients for surgery and making sure they’re safe and don’t feel any pain. And like many of the medical staff members who have been reassigned, he is drawing on prior experience to perform his new role. An early stint in the cardiac ICU gave him a firsthand appreciation of the challenges of bedside patient care, he said, along with valuable training he can apply to his current assignment.  

CRNAs like Sean are working with more people on a team than they’re used to, and they’re working with colleagues they didn’t know before the pandemic. “This has truly been a professionally enlightening process,” he said. “It’s simply amazing to see how different specialties from throughout Lahey have blended their knowledge and experience to best care for these COVID-19 patients. I’m proud to be a member of the team.”

What has been the biggest challenge? “Being in a new environment with unfamiliar faces and trying to care for these patients seamlessly,” Sean said. “But I’ve never been in a situation where the trust and respect was so equally shared at the beginning, and I think that’s because we all need each other.”

Even though he and his new colleagues don’t know each other well, Sean says they’ve all risen to the challenge. “It’s amazing how people have stepped up. It’s just invigorating.”

The support amongst the staff has also kept him going. In the room where the nurses meet to report out to the next shift, team members who are leaving for the day cheer and clap for the nurses coming in. They wear shirts with the Superman logo and the tagline “Not all heroes wear capes.“ The camaraderie is just incredible,” Sean said. “The nurses are just so selfless.”

When COVID-19 patients who are well enough to be discharged from the hospital, the theme music from the movie “Rocky” is played over the loudspeakers as they leave. Some days, there are  multiple Code Rockys, an encouraging sign that people are making it through this illness. “It’s hard not to get butterflies when you see a patient survive the worst of COVID and be discharged home,” Sean said. “There’s an eruption of cheering from nearby staff. It’s as if there’s a celebrity in the hospital.”

“I’ve never been happier to be part of Lahey,” he continued. “It’s a true family.”