Actions You'll Never Find

Nov 10, 2019

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Dear World,

The fact that clinicians left their families to come here to the hospital and never questioned it, that’s the ultimate act of love.

I was a young girl in Opelousas, Louisiana, and would spend a few weeks each summer with my great grandfather. He was in his 80’s at the time but was young at heart. Our days there consisted of making our own rules, learning how to garden, train the hunting dogs, and cooking- but most of all we were being carefree kids. I remember his smile while we were there, him cussing in the yard at the dogs as if they were humans and could follow his every command and letting us, really encouraging us, to do things we weren’t allowed to do at home. He lived across the street from the vocational school and would encourage us to go spend time there each day and learn new things, help in the classrooms, and practicing our typing skills—I think he really needed a break from having young girls in the house! I remember how much I loved spending time with him and loved those summers.

While I remember this as being a care-free kid in the summers, I now appreciate some life lessons that I was learning along the way. Maybe he knew it and it was his plan all along, or maybe its what I made of it, but a few lessons that helped to mold me into the person I am today came from Opelousas, Louisiana and Paw Pay Clary.

Those summers lessons taught me the importance of family; it was time for me to spend with him, but it was also his way of helping my mom with summer expenses. I learned unconditional love as he allowed us to act like princesses and catered to our every need. Can you imagine how much he probably dreaded babysitting multiple kids for weeks at a time? I learned responsibility and new skills. There was a reason he was sending us to that vocational school to learn how to type, how to organize, how to clean up after ourselves, and how to use a 10-key calculator. I am sure the macaroni and cheese that I would cook out the box wasn’t his gourmet meal, but he made me feel like it was. These are all lessons that you must live and don’t learn from training programs and books.

So how is this relevant to the work that we face today? Responsibility and Love can show up in various ways- particularly in a crisis.

I think responsibility is our commitment as healthcare workers, not only to our patients, but also to our community and to each other. As nurses, we go to school and take and accept responsibility to provide care for patients in their happiest and most vulnerable times of life. Whether it is this pandemic or other crisis it is our calling to make sure that we're here for patients. For many people, COVID is their worst moment.

In the past few weeks that we’ve been impacted by COVID, there has been countless examples of employees really displaying their responsibility and compassion. Nurses and doctors took responsibility for patients, lab took the responsibility to own testing capacity and ensure ample offerings, supply chain took the responsibility to ensure every employee had enough PPE. The fact that clinicians left their families to come here to the hospital and never questioned it, that’s the ultimate act of love. Staff seeing their new babies for the first time through windows or going weeks without seeing their children to ensure their safety, providing baptisms to patients at the end of life, and sending baskets to other departments in their campuses are all acts of love, compassion, and responsibility. These are the actions you'll never find in the handbook.

I think about the fact that we were sent to the vocational school at an early age to learn. While I didn't appreciate it then, I appreciate it now. We were pushed out of our comfort zone to learn and do something different. 30 years later, that still sticks with me. I appreciate the fact that the family felt strongly enough around values of family, love and responsibility. They pushed us to do that at an age that some people would say is frankly ridiculous. I think that through this entire situation, we've had new learnings every single day, shown love and compassion when it was needed most, and demonstrated at a high level of responsibility to patients, communities, and each other. Like those days in Opelousas, we will look back and celebrate these days as positive life lessons that can’t be found in a handbook. We have a lot to be proud of.

Actions That You’ll Never Find in A Handbook
Dawn Pevey