ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Wednesday is National Nurses Day. These are the men and women who continue to go above and beyond during the coroanvirus pandemic.
These days, they’re not only providing critical care, they’re also playing a huge role in keeping their patients connected to their loved ones.
Julie Gardner and Natasha Delehanty are both nurses in the COVID-19 unit at St. Peter’s Hospital. They, like many other nurses, have taken on the role of coordinating communication between patients and their families, who are not allowed to visit.
Their unit has about a dozen tablets with Zoom and FaceTime capabilities.
“Once they see their family member on the other side of the iPad, their eyes just light up,” said Gardner.
The calls can range from a couple of minutes to upwards of an hour. The nurses say these calls are very intimate moments between the patient, their families and the nurses.
“It’s very difficult. The ones where it is the last call, obviously, standing there at the bedside holding the iPad while the family says goodbye, as a nurse it’s extremely heartbreaking to watch that,” said Gardner.
With the iPad in one hand and the other clasping the hands of the patient, the families also have the peace of mind of knowing that the nurse is right there with their loved one and that they are not physically alone, either.
“The staff get connected. We’ve had some patients here for several weeks, so you do get very connected to these patients,” said Delehanty.
Some of the families are calling in from home or different states and countries, Others could be calling from a few floors up as they battle the same virus.
“We had a couple, where one was on my unit and the other was on a ventilator in the ICU, and we were able to bring them together via technology,” said Delehanty.
Another one of Delehanty’s patients had special needs, so she said it was especially important for the family to be able to see the nurses over video chat so they could see that they were there for him and advocating for him.
The nurses told NEWS10 ABC the patients are going through a lot and have many questions, so they do their best to keep their minds at ease.
“They’re scared. They sometimes feel alone, so they are reaching out to these caregivers for help, for comfort, for support, for hope,” said Delehanty.
The nurses themselves are going through a lot, too. They lean on one another for comfort and support. They told NEWS10 any time a patient is discharged, they rejoice and embrace those small moments of happiness.
“I captured a moment that was just incredible of the staff. Not knowing that I was watching them after the ‘Rocky’ theme song played and our patient left, they’re clapping and all excited. I got to see the staff still dancing and singing together for a few moments. So it’s those few moments of happiness in the day that we take as nuggets and carry throughout the day with us,” said Delehanty, a nurse manager.