Guest Commentary: At the heart of nursing are simple acts of kindness


Rosemary “Rosi” Wurster is a chief nurse executive for Bayhealth.

The simple can be profound. And, in my 20-plus years of nursing, I have had the privilege to experience that! In many types of patient settings, I’ve witnessed so many simple kindnesses from nurses — and so many of them have happened right here at Bayhealth’s two campuses and across our health system in central and southern Delaware.

In honor of National Nurses Week, I’d like to share some recent examples of those kindnesses with you.

Keeping mom, baby together in difficult times

In the time leading up to the birth of her baby, a patient in the Women’s & Children’s Health unit learned of her devastating diagnosis: late-stage cancer. After she gave birth, our nursing team worked to stabilize her so that she could see and bond with her baby. The team also jumped into action to create an environment in which the patient could stay in the labor and delivery unit for her cancer care: They brought the care to her.

One of those nurses even went a step further and ensured that a special memory would be preserved from both mother and child. As a gift, she recorded the mom’s and baby’s heartbeats — and placed the recordings in two teddy bears.

The family received the special help and caring needed because the members of the nursing team not only worked together; they understood each other. They understood that each of them intended to do everything possible to ease the family’s burden. They were — and are — all in.

Family taking care of family

While in the elevator a few months back in our Bayhealth Hospital, Sussex Campus, I took the opportunity to start a conversation. In answer to my “Hi. How are you?” the man I spoke to told me that his wife was a patient on 6B. Then, he gushed to me: “I can’t believe how kind your staff has been in caring for her!” I stopped by the patient’s room a short time later, and she told me the same thing.

“Everyone has treated me with such kindness and no judgment,” said the patient, who is dealing with a difficult health condition. She confidently added: “I’m going to get better.”

Afterward, I talked with Pam James, the clinical coordinator of the unit, as I lit up with pride telling her about what I had heard. She wasn’t surprised at all about what I relayed. Because caring with the highest standards is how it always is on 6B. Her simple response: “We are family taking care of family.”

Lifting colleagues, while keeping eyes on patients

On a recent visit to 2East Kent, I witnessed how one of our certified nursing assistants is taking action to encourage our nursing staff, while continuing to be a constant champion for patients. I saw the gift basket he had placed in the break room that would be raffled off for free during the month. He single-handedly started the monthly morale booster months ago and keeps it going. I also saw the snack basket he had set up in the break room, which he continues to replenish. The sign on it makes sure all feel welcome: “Whether you’re on staff or travelling through, please enjoy a snack.”

This is the same person who’s so highly attuned to our patients that he notices the smallest of changes in them. As he has done before, he recently alerted our nurses to a sudden, subtle change he saw in a patient and immediately advocated to get the patient the higher level of care they needed.

A colleague who cares as much about his fellow caregivers as he does for patients: That’s the ultimate in caring.

Let me walk with you

Just recently, I was lucky to be visiting 3A Kent to experience yet another example of simple kindness — one that I believe must happen in so many of our other units, too. Our nurses caring for a patient who had just made big strides in his recovery were encouraging him. They were all vying to help him. “Let me walk with you,” I heard each of the nurses offering. Just moments before, they had given him high-fives for his progress.

And there I was, honored to witness this simple beauty of spirit.

These are just a handful of stories. But I could share countless others. One of the highlights of my day is to receive letters from our grateful patients or their families for the care given to them in our emergency departments, Surgical Services, outpatient locations and therapy areas. The care our nurses provide spans our entire health system beyond the walls of our hospitals, too.

Back in July of last year, one of the major reasons I accepted Bayhealth’s chief nursing executive position was the kindness I had witnessed from the nurses treating our patients. I consider it a privilege to work with the amazing people I call colleagues every day — the family taking care of family, who say without hesitation, “Let me walk with you.”

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