With 11 members of her family in healthcare and several fighting on the front lines of the COVID-19 epicenters, Sandy Pratt, RN, BSN, says that staying close to family through frequent Zoom meetings has become her lifeline for giving and receiving support.
“It’s really starting to take its emotional toll,” says Pratt, a student in the online MSN - Family Nurse Practitioner specialty track at Chamberlain. “The only way we are keeping some sense of normalcy is to keep staying connected.”
As mom to Chamberlain graduate Megan, an RN; Brian and his wife Shelby, both Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs); daughter-in-law Katie, a nurse practitioner; daughter Sydney, who is studying to be a physician assistant, and a sibling to three sisters who are nurses, along with a niece who is a nurse practitioner and a second who is a CRNA, Pratt is at the helm of the support command central, striving to model how to care, persevere with grit and be present for the most sick and vulnerable.
“We’re trying to be smart, creative and resourceful,” says Pratt, whose medical/surgical/observation and telemetry floor where she works as a nurse at the 815-bed Mission Hospital in Asheville, NC, has been transformed into a COVID-19 holding ground where patients wait for their test results.
She and all of the clan have been redeployed and repurposed during the pandemic.
The family’s Florida contingent of nurses is caring for COVID-19 patients docking from cruise ships and filling hospital beds from retirement communities. But Pratt is especially concerned about her daughter, Megan Pratt, who traveled earlier this week to New York City from Maryland to work at NYU Langone, where the city’s COVID-19 death toll of nearly 3,000 surpassed that from the 9/11 terror attack earlier this week.
“We are all really worried about Megan; she’s exhausted,” says Pratt. “We asked her if she knew what it was going to be like before she took the assignment, if she would do it again and she said ‘Absolutely!’ The need is unlike anything she has ever experienced and there are so many people who need help.”
The family has rallied to send Megan things like homemade masks to wear when off work, face lotion, Uber Eats gift cards, and things to help her be a little more comfortable.
For Pratt, who made a mid-life career shift in her fifties from marketing to nursing after her children graduated from college, adjusting and adapting on the fly are innate in her being.
Inspired by her father who became a medical corpsman while in a POW camp in World War II, she decided to join the family legacy of healthcare professionals his heroism created. Her father was recently awarded a Gold Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously for his service in the Philippines during WWII. Pratt says she entered nursing because of a passion to treat people.
The silver lining in the coronavirus has been the calling to provide extra compassion and care to the growing ranks of seriously ill elderly who are filling up beds at her hospital.
“It’s very sad because they are in isolation and it is very scary and lonely for them,” says Pratt. “We’re all trying to take extra time to be there emotionally for them.”
Through all of the challenges, she is trying to stay focused on the goodness, she says, that abounds from community members who are donating meals and restaurant gift cards to hospital employees. This Friday, the community plans to gather and stage a rally outside the hospital thanking the medical workers battling COVID-19.
And she’s especially grateful for the team support she’s seeing at the hospital.
“Everyone has a role, and there are so many people involved in caring for our patients,” she says. “I don’t think everyone realizes how the team has to work so close together, from the house keepers who have to go in and scrub down every single surface of the room, to the people making and serving the meals. Everyone is in this together.”
Share your appreciation for healthcare professionals by publicly giving thanks on our wall of gratitude: www.chamberlain.edu/careforcaregivers.
By Mary Beth Sammons
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