Honoring Heroic N.J. Nurses in the Pandemic: Nancy Homa

 In Nurses Weekly

During this pandemic Nancy Homa, BSN, RN,
CCRN, ICU Assistant Nurse Manager at Newton
Medical Center, juggles working at the bedside and
working administratively with leadership. With 32
years of nursing experience in the ICU setting, Nancy
shares the challenges and rewards of this pandemic.
Challenges include taking time to put on personal
protective equipment (PPE) and no family visitation,
while rewards are better relationships with coworkers,
community support, and discharges.

Nancy found that the challenge was not the lack
of PPE but rather the additional time to don and doff
PPE prior to rushing in to help a patient. ICU nurses
are wired to react quickly, and this runs counter to
their normal way of working. Due to the necessary
visitor restrictions designed to keep patients and their
families safe, and prevent further spread of the virus,
patients have been separated from their loved ones
in the course of care. Patients that were terminally
extubated and transitioned to comfort care were only
able to have their family stand outside the window and
look in to have some semblance of a goodbye. Nancy
explains, “We have been able to have FaceTime and
phone calls, but it certainly does not ‘feel’ like enough.
We cry for the patients who pass without their loved
ones at their side, and hold their hands tightly to let
them know they are not alone.”

The ICU staff has come together as a team like
never before. Relationships are stronger amongst the
ICU staff and with the many nurses who have floated
to their unit to be “buddies.” For many of these nurses,
the idea of working in an ICU, far out of their usual
element, was unsettling enough, let alone supporting
the care of some of our sickest patients. But the reward
is that after leaving a 12-hour shift, most came back
asking to return again. Our community support has
been an unbelievable and heartwarming reward. Every
day donations are pouring from food and baskets of
goodies to homemade masks and shoes. And of course
discharging patients has been the greatest reward.

Nancy states, “While there has certainly been much
tragedy, we have also witnessed incredible instances
of hope, like when patients go home after being on
the ventilator for more than 20 days. It is wonderful to
attend the “clap out” for a patient being discharged, so
the tears in your eyes are from happiness, not sorrow,
and you regain the inspiration to face tomorrow.”

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