Mary Ellen Welling

Beaumont nurse brings in voices, sounds from home to help patient through COVID-19

During the first COVID-19 surge, health care workers across Beaumont found themselves in new roles. One of those people was nurse Mary Ellen Welling. After COVID-19 postponed sleep evaluation appointments, Mary Ellen was assigned to Beaumont, Troy.

“I was trying to triage phone calls because the floors were getting pummeled with people visiting. It was stressful on the health care team. I had the advantage of being able to help in engaging and creative ways,” Mary Ellen said.

One of those creative ways made a huge impact.

Mary Ellen was on the phone with a patient’s wife. The patient, who was in his 40s, was on a ventilator battling COVID-19 and wasn’t responding well. The patient’s wife told Mary Ellen she wished her husband could hear her, their family and the sounds of home.

“I asked if she had a voice recorder. I told her to talk to him, let him hear the sounds of the house. We were throwing out every trick to get him to turn around,” recalled Mary Ellen.

The next day, Mary Ellen met the patient’s wife to retrieve the recorder.

“I remember telling the nurse, ‘here, try this,’” said Mary Ellen. “That evening, the nurse emailed me to let me know that she turned the recorder on, and a few hours later he had tears running down his face, so we knew he was in there.”

Three days later, the patient was off the ventilator. After that, the team found 20 more recorders (with more on the way) to use going forward.

“It’s the little things, the touches, the caring, that allows folks to have hope,” said Mary Ellen. “I’m really proud that Beaumont has taken this seriously. This is wonderful. It’s that mind, body, soul - looking at the whole picture.”