Today is International Nurses Day. The profession has certainly come a long way from what it was in the 1800s when Florence Nightingale laid down the first hygiene and sanitation practices that saved so many soldiers during the Crimean War. Since then, it has flourished into multiple disciplines and specialisations, just like the rest of modern medicine.
However, one thing has remained timeless: unwavering compassion for their patients in the face of an intimidating and unfamiliar world of health care.
For many, nurses are the people we remember most from the times we’ve visited a hospital or clinic. They are our first points of contact, the ones who provide comfort and clarity. We trust them to care for our loved ones when we can’t be there, and we trust them to care for us should the time come.
However, we shouldn’t be blind to the enormous responsibility nurses feel and the emotional exhaustion that comes with it. Nurse D’neil Schmal drew world attention a few weeks ago after moving to New York City on March 30th to help fight COVID-19. Via social media, she tearfully described that she is “tired of walking into rooms and [finding] your patient is dead.” Nevertheless, Schmal goes on to say that she “wouldn’t trade [nursing] for anything in the world.”
UK-based nurse C (who would prefer to remain anonymous) expressed similar feelings when Siilo interviewed her about how COVID-19 has impacted the work she and her team do daily. Aside from operational changes, one of the biggest challenges came with social distancing. Nurse C explains: “Social distancing has a massive impact because obviously as a nurse you look at the patient holistically. As soon as the patient walks into the clinic, you look at them and can tell a few things … A lot of the time when you phone a patient it’s not a good time for them and you catch them off guard, you don’t have their full attention as well … Another thing is the tactile touch, the physical contact with patients is so important and it means so much to some patients. Of course you can’t do that over the telephone.”
Social distancing also affects how Nurse C interacts with her team. “As a team we are trying to implement and practice social distancing with each other, but it is impossible. If you want help with a patient, your colleague comes in, and if you need to look at something on the computer you shouldn’t take your gloves off etc.” The physical barriers that are needed to maintain a safe working environment ironically end up getting in the way of daily processes that guarantee holistic patient care.
As a result, Nurse C’s clinic has increasingly come to rely on Siilo to communicate critical information without the risk of face-to-face contact. “Before you’d have to meet with a colleague to discuss a patient,” Nurse C explains. “With Siilo you can do it immediately knowing it’s completely secure and safe. We can have conversations about patients in real time. [My teammate] could be on the phone and I could shoot a quick question in the group chat. You can’t do that with email, you can’t do that with the telephone when you are speaking with a patient.”
Despite the difficulties, Nurse C remarks that the COVID-19 crisis has exposed an innate connection between herself and her colleagues. “In a way it has made us closer because we are not seeing as many patients, and we’ve always classed ourselves as a family anyway. We are all grateful that we can still go to work, and to come out and do our job, despite the circumstances.” Technologies like Siilo help to smooth the way in terms of information exchange, critical to keeping patients safe and teammates aligned, but they also allow nurses and other medical professionals to maintain the human relationships that COVID-19 is displacing. “With Siilo,” Nurse C says, “you can reach out immediately.”
We at Siilo are proud to do what we can to provide nurses with the communication tools they need to do their jobs safely, not just for their patients but for themselves. More than anyone else, nurses are feeling the heavy burdens of COVID-19. In every hospital and clinic around the world, nurses like Nurse C and Nurse Schmal must fight through the physical discomfort of PPE, the emotional pain of losing patients every day, and the frustrations that COVID-19 is placing on their normal working lives.
None of this is stopping nurses from delivering the best care possible. As D’neil Schmal says, none of them “got in this field to do a bad job.” Siilo plays only a small part in lifting the burden from nurses’ shoulders by making daily communication simple, quick, and secure.
We should all aspire to the same level of dedicated compassion as the nurses of our international medical community. Happy International Nurses Day from Team Siilo. We’re with you all the way.