We ‘Give Our All, All Day, Every Day’

 In Nurses Weekly

Over the past 23 years, Registered Nurse Melissa Hancsin has worked in “almost every position” in the emergency department at the Hunterdon Medical Center in Raritan Township, including roles as a unit coordinator, patient care technician, registrar and staff nurse. She also acted as the evening nursing supervisor prior to becoming the manager of the emergency department in January 2020 “just in time” for the COVID-19 pandemic. The Hunterdon County native earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing at the College of New Jersey and is a certified emergency nurse.

Hanscin recently spoke with NJ.com and reflected on a turbulent year that has challenged and changed both herself and her career.

What has life looked like for you this past year?

Life has been extraordinarily busy. I work many hours to ensure the emergency department is as safe as possible for our patients, visitors and staff.

How has the pandemic changed you?

I have learned to appreciate things I used to take for granted. Seeing a person’s smile is a big one. We’ve had to learn to communicate more with our voice and eyes, and we’ve had to learn to focus more on listening. Wearing masks has changed listening—I didn’t realize how much lip reading we do as we listen!

In what specific ways are you different from last year?

I have to think more about what used to be easy decisions. Are the plans we are considering safe? Could I potentially get anyone else sick? Could I potentially get sick? I have to take a moment to consider everything from school, my kids’ sports, going out for errands. I didn’t realize how simple life was before COVID-19.

What did you struggle with this year? What has challenged you?

Being away from my extended family and friends has been very hard. Those are people I love, and I look forward to seeing, especially on birthdays and holidays. It has been very hard to not share those moments and give hugs. I know it is keeping them safe, but it has been so difficult.

What are you looking forward to in the next year?

I am looking forward to some normalcy in 2021. Normal might not look exactly like 2019 did, but it will be wonderful not to constantly consider COVID-19.

Do you have anything else to add?

As the wild year of 2020 comes to a close, my heart is so full of gratitude.

I am so grateful for the support of my husband and children. Since the beginning of the pandemic, they have learned to do all the cooking, cleaning, laundry and errands that I used to do for them. They ensure my every need is met so I can take care of my unit and our patients. I am eternally grateful for each and every one of our staff members for all their hard work, their dedication to our patients and each other, their positive attitude and their sense of humor. I am also thankful for our administration—they have all been supportive of the emergency department so we can take the best care of our patients. We couldn’t do all we do without them!

I’d also like to thank our patients for continuing to have so much patience as we care for them. Things may take a little longer or be a little less convenient than they were pre-COVID-19, but we give it our all, all day, every day, to keep them comfortable and safe.

Lastly, thank you to our community for all their support. I have been so fortunate to have others look out for my family in my home life and we have so many kind people who take care of us at work. We’ve been treated to so many delicious meals and other treats. We’ve received notes, cards, phone calls and gestures of those expressing their support and gratitude. In the midst of a pandemic, it has been so special to have so many people take care of us when we are the caregivers for others.

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