COLORADO SPRINGS – In our last Your Health Family story, we introduced you to a mom-dad-daughter trio of registered nurses in Colorado Springs.
Jeff works in the PACU – or recovery area – helping patients who are coming out of surgery. It’s generally a fairly predictable environment, and most surgical patients are scheduled ahead of time, but that doesn’t mean the job doesn’t have its challenges.
Jeff explains, “It’s a different kind of chaos. Usually a surgical procedure and the recovery is fairly short-lived, but you have the chance to build certain kinds of relationships … everybody has a story and some of the stories are quite interesting.”
Compared to helping women bring a new life into the world, Jeff says helping groggy patients manage their pain and recover from anesthesia safely is right down his alley. Jeff says, “With labor and delivery you’re looking at the beginning of a lifetime, and how those lives may impact families, communities or even humanity itself.”
For his wife, Loretta, and daughter Rachel, who both work in labor and delivery, it’s the challenge of helping women through a milestone event and bonding with them that is so rewarding.
Loretta says, “I’ve been doing this for 29 years. I enjoy walking in that room and being able to calm the patient, be secure in what I’m doing and allow them to have that peace and calming they need to be able to do the hard work that’s ahead of them.”
Rachel says, “Every day on labor and delivery is completely different. I love that. I love not knowing what I’m going to walk into, and in a way that is also terrifying.”
Loretta works at UCHealth Memorial North, and Rachel works at UCHealth Memorial Central. While they have never worked side-by-side on the same unit, the similarities in the care they deliver has actually been shared by patients.
Rachel explains: “Because high-risk moms and high-risk babies will get transferred to Central from North, there have been times when my mom has started a patient (at North) and then said ‘look out for my daughter when you’re at Central.’ I’ll go into the room and the connection that my mom makes with her patients is beautiful, and it’s nice when I get to have that extension of her to share with the patients.”
One patient even delivered with Loretta and then had her second baby with Rachel present. Rachel explains, “A woman that I had as a patient, had delivered her first baby at North and loved my mom and wanted to deliver again at North and requested my mom as her delivery nurse. Turns out her pregnancy was high-risk so she had to deliver at Central. By chance she was my patient. We were talking about our personal lives and she said something about her nurse from her last delivery, and it just happened to be that it was my mom. She really wanted and had that connection with her, and she cried and cried and said it was beautiful that there was that little extension of Loretta they helped with her (second) delivery.”
Jeff, Loretta and Rachel all tell me that like any job, there are hard days and challenging days. Rachel says for her, “A great day is running around and having great outcomes and everything going absolutely wonderful. Working with wonderful doctors and wonderful staff members. Getting the chance to go to the bathroom when you need to, and getting to eat lunch when you’re hungry, and getting off on time, but that doesn’t always happen.”
After a bad day, Rachel says, “Driving home exhausted calling my mom and crying about how bad my day was, that’s a bad day, and I still go back for more – and I always will.”
During National Nurse Appreciation week, when nurses are celebrated I asked this group what they wish more people understood about their profession.
Loretta says, “Nurses truly care. We’re not here to hurt our patients, or to do what we want them to do. We’re here to do what they need us to do, and we’re here to take care of them and help them to have the best experience that they can while they labor and have their baby. I enjoy that part of it, being part of people’s lives and making a difference.”
Said Rachel: “They often say that nursing is a thankless job, and I am OK with that. I don’t go I don’t go to work to be appreciated, and I don’t go to work to get a ‘thank you.’ I don’t need thank-you cards from patients. I go to work because there’s a drive in me to be there for my patients.”
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