“I think I can speak for everyone when I say there was a little fear,” Ashley describes. Fear aside, the nurses on Unit 38 worked together and even stepped into other roles such as food and nutrition, phlebotomy, respiratory therapy, and more. On a typical day, these tasks are covered by other team members, but some areas have reduced staffing to limit the number of people on the unit at one time. “Ultimately, we adapted to the change and soon it was our norm. Each day is a new endeavor. As nurses, we knew that we have a job to do, but we worry for ourselves and our families. Nonetheless, we persevere and care for each other and our patients to the best of our ability,” explains Ashley.
In addition to taking on work above and beyond their job scope, nurses on Unit 38 have to completely change their protective equipment after entering and exiting each room. This is more than just changing gowns; it includes washing face shields and N95 masks while putting on new gowns and gloves, all of which takes a significant amount of time. “It definitely changed our workflow. We all try to work together to decrease each other's time in patient rooms, without interfering with our performance of duties,” Ashley expresses.
“Ashley has exemplified the positive characteristics that we would all want in the nurse who is caring for our own loved ones,” says Stephen Benko, Unit 38 Nurse Manager. “Although rather early in her nursing career, she has displayed the ability to teach new individuals and has shown her ability to lead. Her flexibility in orienting new staff members during a time of stress and constant change is very admirable. She most certainly is an asset to our team!”
Before Ashley can greet her husband and their two dogs, she completes an entirely new routine when she gets home from a shift. “The first thing I do when I get home is disinfect my car and take off my shoes outside my front door. I rush inside to my laundry room and put everything into the washer. Then, I disinfect my phone and glasses and go straight to take a shower. All of this happens before I can even hug my husband and dogs,” she says.
Like many healthcare workers, Ashley’s personal life has drastically changed. “I haven't seen my father in over 60 days. Communicating on the phone is the only way I can connect with him. It’s just my husband and me at home, I try to distance myself from everyone else and make the most out of what we have.”
Ashley has become a true leader on her unit and has taken on the additional duties of precepting new nurses and teaching them their daily work while also teaching COVID-19 protocols and how to properly care for rapidly declining patients. Because of Ashley’s leadership, she will soon become a Charge Nurse on Unit 38.
As a nurse on the frontlines, Ashley wants to encourage the community to keep up the good work of social distancing so that we can get back to a sense of normalcy. She offers the following advice:
Today, you can help GBMC’s Healthcare Heroes like Ashley by participating in #GivingTuesdayNow - a global day of unity and giving to support those who are sacrificing so much. We know that not everyone can make a monetary donation during these times, but you can help by sharing Ashley’s message with your community to continue to slow the spread and support GBMC’s frontline professionals as they provide the care they would want for their own loved ones.
We all want things to get back the way they were. It is important to protect our community by staying home and going out as little as possible aside from food or health reasons, to minimalize any potential exposure. Wash your hands, wear your mask, and continue to stay strong.”