Beaumont nurse educator Colleen Joseph, or CJ as she’s better known, remembers the exact moment one year ago when she knew her job would never be the same.
“A code was called on our unit so I ran to help,” CJ explained. “For our protection and the protection of the patient, we had to put on full PPE before entering the room. As we rushed to get everything on, someone from our team looked at the patient through the glass and said, ‘Hold on…we’re coming.’ I was shaken after that.”
On March 11, 2020, CJ was thrust into the middle of this new world when she learned her unit would start caring exclusively for COVID-19 patients. Nobody knew what to expect and the number of cases and deaths kept climbing.
“Saying I was scared would be an understatement,” she said. “It was all hands-on deck and we were working feverishly to support the bedside clinical staff. The exhaustion made me feel as though it would never end.”
While reflecting on the emotional year and all the challenges she’s faced, CJ attributes her strength and resiliency to the support of her team.
“It was new for all of us and everyone did their best,” she said. “This amazing team of people came together every day to find creative ways to give patients hope, comfort families and fight alongside each other. I never felt defeated.
Tired, yes, but never defeated. I think the pandemic made us even stronger.”
With vaccination efforts ramping up and cases starting to decline, many of us see hope for our lives returning to normal. But CJ knows that she will carry these experiences with her well beyond the end of the pandemic.
“My heart still burns when I think of the many patients who died saying goodbye to their families on an iPad,” she said. “Those memories remind me that as clinical providers, we must keep doing what we do. It’s not easy, but this
work is a calling. I am so blessed to come into work every day and be of service to patients in need of compassion, empathy and care. In so many ways, I am a better nurse because of these experiences.”
When asked what she would tell herself one year ago if she had the opportunity, CJ shares a message of resilience, gratitude and love.