Today is World Health Day and this year, as nurses stand front and center caring for COVID-19 patients, the World Health Organization has declared 2020 the International Year of the Nurse and Nurse Midwife.
At University of Texas Medical Branch, in just the past two weeks, nurses have been largely responsible for turning intensive care units into COVID-19 ICUs and have quickly shifted gears from treating other kinds of patients to those infected with the coronavirus, said Deborah Jones, dean of the School of Nursing.
“This is what we signed up for,” said Kaysie Stratton, nurse manager of COVID-19 unit 8 at the medical branch. “Are we scared sometimes? Sure. But we still do our jobs while continuing to protect ourselves and our families.”
Annie Migues, a registered nurse on the unit, feels the COVID-19 crisis has brought a new awareness about nursing to the general public and to those in the profession.
“It’s opening up everybody’s eyes to nursing and what we do,” Migues said. “It’s a universal language. Even though we’re not in Italy right now, we know what it feels like to be a nurse there. I think this will probably unite nurses around the world.”
Medical branch leadership and the community have been supportive of medical branch nurses caring for COVID-19 patients, Stratton said.
“We are in constant communication with leadership as things around us are constantly changing, and we are definitely in the loop,” she said. “And every single day we’re either getting lunch brought to us from various restaurants or pizza delivered to us from families randomly. We’ve gotten meals with little personal notes attached and personal care packages that we really appreciate.”