When ER Nurse Misty Brooks, BSN, RN, CEN—and a NASCAR fan since her teens—heard that motorsports were coming back from their COVID-19 hiatus, she thought she couldn’t be happier.
Boy was she wrong.
She soon learned she’d be honored at the next race. And that one of the cars would feature her name for all to see.
Then, she learned the best part: That she’d get to be a grand marshal for the race itself. “I was floored, humbled and honored just to be nominated,” she said. “I want to say that this is like a dream come true, but I never knew that this was a possibility.”
As part of its tribute to “real heroes” working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, NASCAR replaced all drivers’ names on its cars with those of healthcare workers. It’s also drawing attention to caregivers’ hard work and sacrifice by sharing their stories and making them honorary officials at much-anticipated events.
Misty eventually found out that Lynne Brownell, her supervisor and ER director, was the one who nominated her. Lynne knew Misty was crazy about NASCAR, and that few nurses had done more to deserve such an honor.
“She’s such a positive presence in the department,” Lynne said of Misty, who works as both a bedside nurse and charge nurse. “She remains calm and focused when the situation around her is chaotic, setting a great example for her peers.
“Misty doesn’t complain about challenges. She finds ways to overcome them.”
“I’m Not a Hero”
Misty has had more than her share of chaotic challenges lately, following a surge of COVID-19 patients in the Phoenix area where she works. After Arizona state officials opted for a full reopening of businesses without requiring facemasks, COVID-19 case numbers predictably exploded.
Misty’s hospital was overwhelmed by patients within the week, especially in the ER. She describes it as “about what New York City was experiencing at the beginning, with a high volume of high-acuity patients.”
Thankfully, her fellow nurses and other colleagues have rallied together, working around the clock to provide the best care possible under extraordinary circumstances.
“I’m not a hero,” Misty said. “I have an entire team of incredible people who work incredibly hard, so this is their honor too. COVID-19 is more than we expected, but caring is what we signed up for.”
She continued, “it’s a challenge these days when every single bed is full of patients, but the ambulances are still coming in. We’re short staffed and not taking lunches, but we still come to work. It’s incredible to witness.”
From Superfan to Superstar
“Misty is known for compassionate care,” said Alex Bowman, driver of the NASCAR #88 car that would feature Misty’s name above the door. “Thanks for everything you’ve done.”
The shout-out from a famous racecar driver was just one humbling tribute in a week that was full of them. Though COVID-19 restrictions would keep her from attending the race in person, she was still blown away by the support and recognition she received.
“There were news people calling me all week,” Misty said. “I’ve never experienced something so crazy.”
It was a wild ride that she never wanted to end. But at the same time, it gave her even more motivation to get back to all of the hard work she has ahead of her.
“We are incredibly grateful and appreciative,” Misty said. “We’re working as hard as we can to take care of people. To be recognized for that feels so great.”
Appreciative and Thankful
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By Chamberlain University
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