What a year it has been for nurses around the world. As if their normal daily duties aren’t tough enough, the COVID-19 pandemic may have effected nurses more than anyone else as they worked wild hours and in intense conditions in order to keep us and our families safe and healthy.
With National Nurses Day celebrated on May 6th, we thought we’d take a moment to share a few heartwarming stories about nurses from the past year in an effort to lift our spirits and give a bit of thanks to the heroes who helped us get through 2020 and beyond.
1. This Nurse Who Became the Godmother to Her COVID-19 Patient’s Baby
Monique Jones was hospitalized for COVID-19 this past September in her home state of Missouri. Just a few weeks later, doctors performed an emergency c-section to save her daughter’s life. At just 29 weeks gestation, she weighed in at just 2 pounds and 5 ounces.
It was an unimaginably rough experience for Jones, but her nurse, Caitlyn Obrock, stayed by her side.
“She was scared,” Obrock said. “I was very invested in her, hoping and praying for a good outcome.”
While Jones was recovering, Obrock went above and beyond. She organized a fundraiser and raised $2,000 in baby gifts and went on to throw a baby shower for Jones along with her colleagues. The goal was to do what nurses often do best – boost the morale of her patient.
Now home safe and sound with her new baby, Jones has asked Obrock to become the baby’s godmother.
2. These Nurses Who Gave An Elderly Couple Battling COVID-19 a Surprise Dinner Date
At 86 and 93 years old, Terry Martinez and Frank Martinez had been married for over 63 years when they both found themselves hospitalized with COVID-19.
If Terry and Frank are like most sweethearts who’ve been together for such an extraordinarily long time, it is easy to understand just how connected and dependent they are on one another. One might even call them “inseparable”.
After a few days apart, perhaps the only few days that they had been apart for the past several decades, their nurses realized that, like for many others, a bit of joy and happiness could be an important contributor to their recovery.
As part, a special dinner date was arranged. They were brought into the same room where they were able to eat together and enjoy a few hours of television, hand in hand.
“As soon as we rolled him into her room, he said oh sweetheart you look beautiful”, said Kim Presson nurse at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.
3. This Retired Nurse Who Made Easter Cards For Hospice Patients
Sometimes a bit of creativity and random love can change the world. This retired nurse made 70 easter cards for random hospice patients. Each one is unique and undoubtedly lifted the patients’ spirits when they were received.
4. This Elementary School Nurse Who Sewed Over 4,000 Masks
Masks are ubiquitous at this point. Most of us have several lying in our cars, on our kitchen counters, and otherwise strewn around the house. But during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, masks weren’t so easy to come by.
This heartwarming story comes from a school nurse in Mazeppa, Minnesota where Amber Mehrkens decided that if she wasn’t going to be at school full time, she would spend the extra hours in her day (when she wasn’t caring for her 4 children) helping out by sewing masks.
She created several hundred masks out of fabric that she happened to have on hand and placed them on her front porch for neighbors to take for free. Realizing the demand, she fundraised a few hundred dollars to help cover the costs of fabric and went on to sew over 4,000 masks along with her children and a few friends.
She distributed those masks to the local fire department and other area businesses.
5. This Retired Nurse Who Create Affordable Bandages for Darker Skin Tones
Nurses tend to be more than just healers. Nurses spend time and attention with patients, helping them feel their best in order to recover with positive attitudes. Joy Barbre, a registered nurse who recently retired from the St. Louis County Department of Health, spent a lot of time working closely with patients, particularly children. From that experience, she realized that children with darker skin wanted bandages that fit their complexion. It may seem trivial, but children are always trying their best to fit in and seem as normal as possible to their peers.
A light bulb went off in Joy’s head and she found herself working with her son to create a line of bandages that not only match better to darker skin tones, but she was able to work with suppliers to price them cheaper than some of the bigger competitors. In fact, they are more than half the cost at just 7¢ each!
6. When This Hospice Patient Was Visited By A Horse
The title sort of says it all, doesn’t it? Robert Wagner, a patient at a Buffalo based Hospice has an affinity for horses. Towards the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown, in April of 2020, he had been telling his caretaker, Nurse Bethany Varney about his love for these majestic creatures.
At 81 years old, with four grandchildren, and more than likely a bit of anxiety about the growing global pandemic (just like us all!), his nurse thought he could use a bit of happiness in his day. So, she went well out of her way and got ahold of the Lothlorien Theraputic Riding Center who was able to bring a huge smile of joy to Robert’s afternoon with the visit of one of their equestrian friends.
7. When Banksy Chose a British Nurse As A Superhero
We mostly know Banksy as the mysterious street artist who’s social commentary tends to pop up when it’s least expected. He also made headlines not long ago when a painting of his was automatically shredded just after someone purchased it at auction for $1.4million.
But this past year he made waves around the world with a painting of a young boy who chooses a nurse out of his basket of superheroes (like Batman or Spiderman) to play with instead of those traditional, and fictional characters.
The art was unveiled at the University Hospital Southampton in South England and is titled “Game Changer.”
8. The Rise in People Looking To Become Nurses
Possibly the most heartwarming collection of moments for nurses over this past year are simply the stories of more people looking to become nurses than ever before.
In the UK, studies are seeing an increase in applications for nursing school at over 30%, with almost a 40% increase in people over the age of 35 applying to become nurses.
Meanwhile, in the US, schools like Villanova are also seeing their largest classes ever for incoming nursing students and, in a further note, 20% of their incoming class for nursing school are male. The applications for nursing school are so high, in fact, that getting accepted into the limited programs is becoming more competitive.
All Said And Done
It’s been a tough year and there is no denying it. Together, we’ve been tossed into an unprecedented scenario and we’ve each had our individual struggles be them personal or for the community as a whole. There is no denying, however, that nurses have been something quite close to superheroes over this past year. It’s nice to look back and see just a few of the amazing things that have warmed our hearts to these heroes.
For this National Nurses Day, if you are friends with a nurse or happen to live near a hospital, perhaps it would be nice to pay them back for all of their work with a kind gesture, or if nothing else, a warm smile and a “thank you.”