Health care workers pull back the curtain for National Hospital Week, show us what their lives are really like

Amid coronavirus pandemic, it’s time to recognize these hardworking employees

Beth, an emergency nurse at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center.
Beth, an emergency nurse at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center. (Photo provided by Memorial Hermann)

In honor of National Hospital Week, health care workers, medical facilities and health systems are being highlighted around the country.

Now more than ever, this should be considered an important time -- an opportunity to reflect on the innovative ways that those in health care are supporting the needs of their community members, especially throughout the current COVID-19 pandemic.

We thought we’d take this chance to recognize four health care workers in particular, and hear what they’d like to share in this unprecedented time:

Malliesha, respiratory therapist

“It is with gratitude that I have experienced this pandemic on this side of the Memorial Hermann Health System. Although not every day is easy, especially not knowing day to day what I will face during my shift, something that helps me get through these unfortunate times is that I know after I have worked another shift, I have saved another life.

Malliesha, respiratory therapist, Memorial City (Photo provided by Memorial Hermann)

“I have always treated all my patients with compassion, however, I have never experienced a hospital closed to visitors. During this time, I made it my priority to hold a patient’s hand and to rub their head, just to let them know it’s going to be OK -- that I am here with them and I promise to help them get better. Whether I know the outcome or not, I practice with faith and hope. I can sleep at night knowing that when my patient was afraid, I helped to calm them and made them comfortable. I can leave work after each shift knowing that I have given my all at the bedside for each patient that I have cared for that shift. These are some things that I usually do daily when caring for my patient because I understand that sometimes all it takes is a simple smile and eye contact to make someone’s day that much better.

“As a respiratory therapist, the days can be challenging. There may be a Code Blue and a Rapid Response at the same time. My coworkers and I rely on each other to be there for one another. This pandemic, as with any other busy day in the hospital, has only brought us closer. I am grateful for our system and all the departments in it. We work together as one.”

Beth, ED nurse, RN

“I am proud to have had the opportunity to give back to the hospital that saved my life, throughout my 30 years of ER nursing, here at Memorial Hermann Hospital," she said.

Beth, who is pictured at the very top of this article, works in one of the busiest Level 1 Trauma Centers in the nation.

“I originally worked as a tech before I had the opportunity to work here as a nurse. I graduated nursing school on a Friday and started work as a nurse that next Monday. I knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Tom Flanagan, VP of Trauma Service Line and System Integration, believed in me. One person that really believes in you, can make a difference. He is the reason that I was successful and advanced in my nursing career. Not too long ago, I learned that I was actually born in the same hospital that I work in. I was preterm and weighed only 2 pounds. I was baptized at the bedside because they didn’t think I would make it. I’m the nurse I am today because of Memorial Hermann.”

As for why Beth has chosen to continue bedside nursing, she said, “I’m there for the patients. That’s the whole reason I go to work every day. My total nursing care is for the patients. I just want to make a difference and to turn things around when things aren’t going well. That’s how I was taught. I’ve never lost my compassion and dedication to deliver high-quality care to my patients. It’s easy to get burnt out as a nurse, but that hasn’t happened to me.”

Omar, Transfer Center RN

“I never know who will be on the other end of a call. It could be a STEMI, stroke or a trauma. This morning, for example, at 8, I handled an oral surgery transfer from the ER. Around 9 a.m., the transfer call I received was a trauma patient who had been in a motor vehicle rollover accident and was in need of a Level 1 Trauma Center. The current facility he was admitted to could not provide the level of care he required. I called the Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center to get a transfer set up. In this case, the patient did not require a helicopter transport, but there are many times we do coordinate with Life Flight Dispatch. After that, I took several pediatric patient transfers and a few other patient transfer between our sister facilities. This all happened before lunchtime.

"Often, we will facilitate two to three transfers simultaneously. We rely on our teammates to help us out. If we are held up with a transfer, then we jump in for each other to do physician calls or receive calls for each other to keep the ball moving.”

Omar, Transfer Center RN (Photo provided by Memorial Hermann)

Working in the Transfer Center is different from bedside experience.

“Physically, you can take it easier because we are in an office setting," Omar said. “But that is it!”

“Sure, we aren’t moving patients, but cognitively, it is still very intensive. You still use your critical thinking skills to follow processes and to make the best decisions, provide the right information and connect with the right people. There are processes we follow, but we have to keep our head in the game so that everything is done right, so we don’t inadvertently cause a delay in care and cause harm. ... I feel like I have become better-rounded as a nurse, and my clinical knowledge has only increased. Even though I’m not at the bedside, my job is still all about the patient. The patient is at the heart of what we are doing. You are still advocating because you are still making sure they get the care they need.”

Alma, ultrasound tech

“Ultrasound is using sound waves to image the body to help determine why patients are having pain. I was actually a student here. As I was studying to be an X-Ray tech, a stenographer asked me, ‘Hey, if you have a chance, come to the ultrasound department and see what we do.’ This year makes 20 years and I truly enjoy it. Memorial Hermann has always provided very good equipment. They kept up with the technology so I can get the best image quality that I can get.

Alma, ultrasound tech, Memorial City (at left) (Photo provided by Memorial Hermann)

"What really inspires me is when I come across a life-death situation. I was doing a pregnancy and the nurse told me the baby’s heartbeat was dropping. I always look at the umbilical cord on babies first, and when I did, it was totally at normal. And I said, the umbilical cord looked like it’s clogging up -- that’s why the baby’s heartbeat is dropping. Once they got the baby out, they did CPR and the baby lived. That’s what gives me the desire -- that I could save a life.

"Every day is always something unique. When those unique ones happen, that’s the inspiration. It was a little voice in my head that told me when I first became an ultrasound tech, ‘Could you retire here?’ And I answered it yes. Memorial Hermann is truly where I belong because Memorial Hermann is one, and one family. It’s like a second home.”

In honor of #NationalHospitalWeek, help us say thank you to the team at Memorial Hermann.