NaTasha Washington, RN, a nurse in the medical intensive care unit shares what it has been like caring for COVID patients, the importance of self-care during this time, and how Brigham nurses are stronger together.
The call to nursing:
"I was going to college for accounting. During my second year, I had my daughter at the Brigham. That changed my trajectory. I was inspired by the nurses who cared for me and my daughter, as well as everyone else. I was in awe of the care they provided and how knowledgeable and warm they were. I knew that I wanted to make that kind of difference for somebody, and I decided I would become a nurse.
It was a long haul. I had to stop college for a while and when I went back for nursing, I had to go part-time nights as a single mom."
Beginning at the Brigham:
"I started in a med/surg unit at the Brigham about 17 years ago, and then I joined the Medical Intensive Care Unit team in 2005. I feel that I make a difference to someone every day in the MICU, not just with the patients but also with their families. Some of the patients are intubated and unable to interact, and I try to really get to know their families and support them. I help them navigate through the experience, understand jargon and help them understand what to expect."
Caring for COVID patients:
"Usually, families are not able to come in, so we try to be there as much as we can for them in other ways. I try to spend a lot of time talking with them over the phone and establishing that relationship and letting them know I am there for their loved one. It means so much to me to be entrusted with the care of these patients. Many of the MICU nurses are now part of teams caring for COVID patients. We work with other nurses serving as extenders to support us and the care of critical patients. Brigham nurses are an incredibly caring, compassionate group of women and men. We care for our patients deeply and treat them as though they are our own family members."
"I do a lot more self-care and self-reflection when I get home from work now than I ever did in my career. My family is so supportive when I go home; they give me the time to myself that I really need."
"This experience with COVID has shown me that we are so much stronger together than we can ever be apart. I don't have to be that strong by myself because I have so much support from my team and the people that I work with. With them, I feel invincible. We will get through this. We will go on. We will be that much stronger.