Cared for Like Family in the ICU
Tracy D. Matthews-Kelton of Fort Washington, Maryland, scheduled a colonoscopy to uncover the cause of internal bleeding. Then, the bleeding became worse.
“Oh, it was scary. It was,” Tracy said. “I honestly thought that I wasn’t going to make it.”
She sought care near her home, at Adventist HealthCare Fort Washington Medical Center, where she was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit for 10 days.
At the time, a surge in COVID-19 cases from the omicron variant required the hospital to restrict visits by family and friends. But Tracy wasn’t alone. Her team of Fort Washington Medical Center nurses cared for her, helped her bathe when needed, continuously checked on her and reassured her that she was in good hands.
“The experience was very, very scary,” Tracy said. “But after being in [the ICU] for the first couple of days, it got a little better, and it was a little more comforting because of the nurses. They comforted me and told me that things were going to work out. And they explained to me everything that was being done.”
Trakina Hogan, ICU nurse manager, says her team found creative ways to connect patients like Tracy with their families.
“Due to the challenges of COVID-19 and restrictions of visitors, initially we would use cellphones to Facetime families or place the call on speaker for those who could not hold a phone,” Trakina said.
“We updated our unit processes to make focused times to call and update family members.” She says nurses also used detailed processes to introduce themselves to loved ones over the phone and take notes during conversations.
Gratitude in Action
During her stay, Tracy was so impressed by the team, she decided to make a list of every nurse who took care of her and make gifts for them. “When they came in, I was like, can you write your name on this paper? I’m going to do something really nice for you guys. I really appreciate you,” she said.
For 16 nurses, Tracy bought self-care items and put together individual pouches monogrammed with each of their names. She also wrote a memo of recognition and appreciation to the ICU team members. She delivered the items to Fort Washington Medical Center in March.
“When kind letters, gifts of appreciation and snacks come into the unit, delivered from a family or a former patient, it is a loud statement,” Trakina said. “It keeps me very conscious of the hard work and dedication from the group I know and am proud to lead. I am very warmed by the supportive feedback from our community that recognizes the team’s great job.”
Tracy remains grateful for the nurses who stood in and treated her like family during her hospital stay.
“I still say that they deserve probably more than what I could give them, but I just wanted to let them know that I’m so appreciative and I will never, ever forget it.”