This post was written by Rae Hannah, RN, who works in the Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas neurosurgery/trauma intensive care unit. She has worked for Baylor for nearly 11 years.
Earlier this month, my colleagues and I were heartbroken to learn that one of our own was now fighting for her life against the Ebola virus.
Nurse Nina Pham, who we consider a hero, was doing a job that no one wanted and then, it seemed, she was being blamed for being sick. When I turned on the news, I saw a plethora of negative messages and immediately thought that she could be any one of us. Thomas Eric Duncan could have been transported to any local hospital and any area nurse could have been stricken with Ebola simply by doing their job.
What the lay person doesn’t understand is that those of us on the front lines of health care are a family. Most of us have worked with our co-workers longer than we have been with our spouses. We help plan each others’ weddings. We help raise each others’ children. Often, we spend more time at work than we do at home.
With all of these thoughts running through my head, I saw a need. The nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas needed to know that in this moment of tragedy, they were supported and loved.
So I sent out a message on Facebook and tagged 15 of my closest co-workers. The message read, “Alright my Baylor peeps, I’m putting together a care package for the Presby nurses caring for one of their own. Please bring whatever you like and I’ll make sure it makes it to them.”
Over the next four days, the donation collection became so big that donations had to be removed from campus daily. What started as an ICU-to-ICU gift turned into an entire hospital effort. We made a banner with messages of support including signatures from pharmacy, environmental services, nurses, doctors and administrators. That banner, now hanging in the heart of Presby hospital, is 35 feet of love, hope and prayers.
The night we delivered our gifts was one that has changed my life forever. A group of ICU nurses met us in the drive of their hospital to accept the gifts on behalf of their colleagues. The gifts included gift cards for food, scrubs, iTunes, snacks (healthy and not so much), bottled water with flavor packets, body care products and a personalized message for Amber Vinson, Nina, and her dog, Bentley.
We were received with hugs, tears and words of thanks. These nurses had no idea how much support they had. We embraced, we cried and we laughed. They shared their stories and we gave them our gratitude. They had no idea we’d be back.
This week, more Baylor nurses are working on providing meals for those who are still being monitored for possible symptoms of Ebola. I’ve learned that while hospitals are competing entities, we have one common goal, a humanitarian one.