Friday, 3 April 2020

HOMETOWN HELPERS: Manhattan nurse brings hope to emergency room workers on the coronavirus front lines

Nurse Emily Fawcett at Lenox Hill Hospital on the Upper East Side.
Nurse Emily Fawcett at Lenox Hill Hospital on the Upper East Side.(Lenox Hill)

In her nine years at Lenox Hill Hospital on the Upper East Side, Emily Fawcett has seen it all.

As a float nurse, she now jumps around from the emergency room to the COVID-19 units upstairs and everywhere in between as needed.

The unique role has allowed her to see all facets of the disease — from patients on their death beds to those fortunate enough to go home.

But she realized her fellow nurses in the emergency room haven’t been so lucky.

“To them, it’s just no end in sight. The patients are just rolling in," the 30-year-old nurse said. “They don’t see any light at the end of this tunnel.”

At a morning meeting last week, Fawcett decided to share with the ER nurses the good news she was witnessing first-hand. She called it a “Hope Huddle” — and now the idea is catching on across hospitals.

Nurses take part in a Hope Huddle at Lenox Hill Hospital.
Nurses take part in a Hope Huddle at Lenox Hill Hospital.(Lenox Hill)

“The response has been unbelievable. It really brings a smile to everyone’s day and it gives them a little pep in their step and it keeps them going through another long shift,” said Fawcett.
The Connecticut native had an especially exciting update on Mar. 26 at her first huddle: A husband and wife who came in weeks ago seriously ill with the virus were now recovering, and the wife was on her way home.
Fawcett was working overtime in the emergency room the day the couple was admitted.
“This man came in and he was very critical, he looked horrible. His wife was there, I remember talking to her, she was sitting outside the room,” she recalled.
“Then I came back next week, turns out I’m taking care of the wife and her husband was in the ICU, not doing well,” Fawcett said. “I took care of her for about a week straight, every night. We cried together, we prayed together. I did not think her husband was going to make it.”
Then last week, Fawcett learned that the husband had been taken off the ventilator and was now recovering in the same room as his wife.
“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m finally meeting the man I’ve been praying for!’ He was there, sitting in a chair, talking to me! It was just so beautiful,” she said.
At the same huddle, another nurse told the story of a 27-year-old man who was taken off the ventilator — then promptly asked her out.
The laughter has become a lifeline for health care workers struggling to keep up their morale amid the growing pandemic, Fawcett said.

“I can tell people are scared, rightfully so. But there’s also this huge surge of family and community. People are talking to each other who normally wouldn’t talk," she said. “The nurses and the cleaning crew are having full-blown conversations. I feel so much more connected to everyone there because we’re all going through this war together."

Fawcett has now received several messages on Facebook from nurse managers at other city hospitals who started their own hope huddles.

Despite the rising death toll, she is determined that everyone see there is plenty of hope among the horror.

“People are recovering, people are going home," she said. “Yes, people are also dying, but the majority of people are doing well. This virus really takes time to blow over, so it’s a slow recovery, but people are definitely recovering.”

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