My heart almost burst with pride as I watched the nurses carrying their valuable bundles out of NYU Langone Medical Center on Monday night. I could imagine the drama that went on behind the scenes to evacuate over 200 patients out of the building with no power and no elevators. Yet as always, the nurses appeared calm and competent, taking everything in their stride, making sure that the patients were handled in the best way possible.
In South Florida we are used to the drill. After Memorial Day the list is drawn up for the hurricane season. Will you be on the ‘before the hurricane’ shift, or the ‘after’ list? Of course, the ‘before’ list actually means ‘for the duration’. Because who knows whether those on the after list will be able to make it in to relieve you. Nurses, and all those who work in 24/7 essential services know the stress of having to put job ahead of family. You go to work trusting that your home, your family will be fine without you. And at work, disaster preparation pays off, all hands come together to take care of sick people while the storms roars outside.
Those who come when you call 911 are known as the first responders. Well nurses are the ‘first to last’ responders – there from the start of life to the end of life, and all places in between. In an emergency, nurses are the calm in the midst of the storm. On an average day, we don’t even think about the thousands of nurses who are there around the clock, trying to do their best under an ever increasing burden of paperwork, regulations, and expectations. And they do it with a smile, a caring touch, a conscience.
My message this morning is dedicated to all of the people who go out and put the needs of others ahead of their own family’s needs. Yes it is a job, and yes you get a pay check, but it requires a sacrifice that many never think of. The responsibilities are heavy, with serious consequences for errors.
While sending my best thoughts and loving wishes to those who have been so savagely ravaged by Sandy, I am also happy to see the unifying force of tragedy. It has been a welcome contrast to the nasty partisan politics of the last few weeks. It is a timely reminder that we are all members of the human race, and what happens in one small but cramped and powerful corner of the globe can have far-reaching consequences for the rest of us. As John Donne once said “Therefore never send to ask for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
Happy Friday, Facebook family, have a great weekend, and for those who are missing the basic every day needs of life, may things come back to some kind of normal very soon.