As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, so do visitor restrictions at hospitals. These precautions are in place to protect the health and safety of both patients and visitors, but hospital staff members recognize how difficult it can be when friends and family are unable to be at the bedside of loved ones who are in the hospital.
Three sympathetic Mercy Health – Lourdes Hospital nurses recently went above and beyond to provide care and closure for one patient and their family.
Hannah Hoover began her nursing career at Lourdes Hospital three years ago and works on the fourth floor. During COVID-19, Hannah, like many others, has been using Zoom for video calls with her family and friends. Staying in touch this way in her personal life made Hannah think about how this technology could also be used in her professional life.
Even though the hospital’s current visitor restrictions allow for visitation during end-of-life situations, Hannah recently had a patient whose family lived too far away and had other circumstances that were preventing them from being able to say their goodbyes in person.
“I had experience with Zoom calling because my family has been using it to connect during social distancing, but this was the first time I have used it for a patient,” Hannah says. “We were lucky enough that the new isolation robot computer has Zoom already installed. All I had to do was set up the meeting and instruct the family on how to sign in on their end.”
Eliza Hill, Hannah’s supervisor, says Hannah’s innovative thinking and humility are typical of her work.
“Hannah is a quiet but powerful presence to her patients and team,” Eliza shares. “What seems to be a simple, small act to Hannah has impacted a family forever.”
Eliza also supervises nurses Ali Lampert and Katelyn Wuchte. They both jumped in as well to provide more than just medical care to this particular patient.
“Ali and Katelyn both recognized the patient’s last breaths were coming to an end, and both stayed to hold the patient’s hand and to play church hymns for the patient,” Eliza says. “The family was very grateful for the love and compassion given during their loved one’s last moments.”
Katelyn joined the Lourdes Hospital team in January of 2019. Even though this isn’t the first time she’s played music for a patient, it was her first time under end-of-life circumstances.
“I have played music for patients that were anxious before procedures or surgeries,” Katelyn shares. “Our patient did not request a hymn, but Ali and I both felt it’s what would comfort the patient best, along with talking softly and holding the patient’s hand.”
Ali, who has been a nurse at the hospital for two years, noticed that during the Zoom call the patient had been read scripture from Psalms by a family member.
“We knew faith was important to the patient,” Ali says. “I have always felt the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ has certain calming powers. This was something I have done before for my patients to calm them, and it is a tool I will continue to use when appropriate.”
“The patient was so kindhearted,” Katelyn continues. “I am thankful that I was able to be there to provide comfort to the patient when the family couldn’t be there due to the current situation.”
Hannah echoes the sentiment that she felt fortunate to be able to provide some closure to all involved.
“It feels good to know I was able to facilitate interaction at the end of life for a patient in isolation,” she says. “It is so important for the grieving process for family to get an opportunity to say goodbye.”
Ali shares she considers it a privilege to be able to soothe a patient when he or she passes away.
“In some instances, like this one, the nurse’s voice and touch is the last thing he or she will hear or feel. This is part of our calling as nurses, to be there for our patients in all stages of life, from the beginning to the very end.”
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