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A Tribute to ICU Staff

Barbara Bodzin, Executive DirectorBarbara Bodzin, Executive DirectorThe COVID-19 pandemic has touched almost every human on the planet in some way or another. None have been more continuously affected than COVID-19 facing Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurses and support staff. Despite the slow decline in infection rates and the promise of vaccination, ICU nurses and support staff continue to face suffering and death with regularity.

Family members, insatiable in their hunger for updates, depend on these nurses for glimmers of hope to soothe both their pains of worry and heartache, and their longing to be with their loved one.

Early on, in response to their commitment, each day thousands of individuals around the world appeared on their terraces and porches or called out their windows to thank and celebrate the health care workers and the first responders. It was an inspiring display of appreciation that they so richly deserve. Yet, here we are, a year later, and these nurses and support staff are still working as hard to save lives and provide care and comfort to COVID-19 patients and their families.

The ICU staff watch as those they bond with struggle and suffer to win small, but significant battles. Some patients find their way back while others succumb to their illness. Family members, insatiable in their hunger for updates, depend on these nurses for glimmers of hope to soothe both their pains of worry and heartache and their longing to be with their loved one. The ICU staff care for their patient’s every need, and as their patient passes, they hold their hand and provide them with love and care, as a proxy for family members who are unable to be present. The staff grieve, and then get back to work, only to repeat this again, with someone else and a new distraught family, on another shift. These are the lives of COVID ward ICU nurses and staff, and they are hard.

There are many successes too, where patients find their way back from the ravages of COVID-19 through lifesaving interventions. Much-needed affection and words of encouragement provided by the nurses and staff go hand in hand with their medical treatments. These acts are powerful, and invaluable to the recovery process.

Outside of their ICU shift, others might not know what they do, or how the pandemic has changed them. They go about their ordinary lives, interacting with family, grocery shopping, and finding safe ways to be with their loved ones. Their commitment and persistence is admirable, and I am so very thankful for all that they are doing and will continue to do until we are free from this pandemic.

What can we do to help these nurses, and to say “thank you”? We can observe precautions by staying socially distanced, wearing masks, washing hands, and sanitizing often. We can get vaccinated as soon as possible. Once most of us are vaccinated, the infection rate will decline, as will the number of people admitted to the ICU, lightening their burden. Then, these amazing, dedicated people who are holding the gravity of this pandemic in their capable hands will get to rest.