After close to a decade in the nursing business, Yazoo nurse Becky Duggan said this year’s Nurse Appreciation Week is like no other she’s ever seen.
“This is going to be our new normal,” she said. “I, nor any of us, have never experienced anything like before.”
National Nurse Appreciation Week began last Wednesday, and the annual observation falls during a time when devoted health workers are on the frontlines of a global pandemic with COVID-19.
Duggan, director of nursing at Baptist Medical Center Yazoo, said her staff of about 75 nurses are humbled at the outpouring of support the local community has shown them as the fight against a silent enemy continues.
“I see our nurses as warriors, going into battle,” Duggan said. “They are scared, but they are still working. That is the definition of being courageous.”
Duggan said she is very proud of the local nursing staff and inspired by their dedication to their field as the community, and the whole world, continues to adjust to COVID-19.
“I have been here day and night at times to help,” Duggan said. “I am constantly on the phone with staff, and many hours have been spent in preparation for COVID issues.”
Aside from regular work duties, several adjustments have been made to accommodate the extra workload and safety measures for patients and staff.
“We have completely changed our inpatient unit, converting one side to a COVID unit,” Duggan said. “We have also converted nine rooms to negative pressure rooms within the COVID unit. We have screenings at the door for employees and patients. We have also shut down elective procedures, but we are getting ready to start those back up again.”
Like many nurses, Duggan said it has been difficult balancing work and family life while combating a pandemic. In fear of bringing potential illness home, many nurses have resorted to making accommodations for their children with family members. Some haven’t seen their own children in weeks, settling for phone calls.
“It has been a struggle balancing home and work,” Duggan said.
National Nurse Appreciation Week will continue until May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the pioneer of modern nursing. But the small gestures with big impacts from the community continue for Yazoo’s nurses. Signs of encouragement have been placed on the lawn of the hospital, as well as with handwritten letters. Food and other donations pour in daily.
And as uncertainty looms, each nurse puts her warrior mask back on…ready to help the next patient in need of care.