Though not a nurse, Elizabeth Lundblad, has the privilege of working with the faculty and staff at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University in her role as Internal Communications Manager. Elizabeth, who provided tech support for the Northeast Ohio Year of the Nurse website, remembers two nurses who exemplify the excellence of the nursing profession.
I know many nurses. Erika, my best friend since eighth grade, is a Registered Nurse and a Certified Perioperative Nurse. Though I haven’t seen her in person since March—thank you, COVID-19—she cemented her BFF status in 2011 when I was living in another state and my mother was admitted to the hospital. Mom was released to a post-operative rehab facility, and Erika visited when I was unable to do so. I’m forever grateful.
And then there’s Kate.
It was Friday, September 20, 2019, at St. John’s Hospital in Westlake. She wore a head scarf, had kind eyes and gave a reassuring hug. Kate was the nurse in charge when my mom was brought in after having a massive heart attack that afternoon. I had met Kate at St. John’s during previous visits for difficulties related to Mom’s congestive heart failure.
Though the EMTs had managed to get Mom’s heart to start, she wasn’t waking up. Dad and I knew what the outcome would be from the start, but we started the “wait and see” process for the next 48 hours.
Before we left, Kate pulled me aside.
“I’ve seen you before. I know your mom. I’m Kate. This is my number at the desk. Call anytime, I’ll be here. I know your voice. I’ll update you on your mom.”
When I called, Kate was there. She knew my voice. On Sunday, September 22, 2019, we stopped life support after confirming there had been no brain activity. Mom was gone the moment the heart attack happened.
This was my first experience of a bedside death; my dad’s, too, I think. Kate was there. She walked us through what was going to happen, and then she stepped back. If we had a question, she answered. Though our grief hung heavy in the room, Dad and I had backup. We had Kate.
Nurses see patients and families through the worst of times. As I continue to grieve for my mother, I will always be thankful that there was a person to turn to for clarity and support.
I know she was just one of a whole team of nurses, physicians and clinicians caring for my mom, but Kate, wherever you are, thank you. Happy Year of the Nurse and Midwife.