Employee Inspiration During COVID-19: Short Stories

The next part of our employee inspiration series continues. Many UF Health employees wrote and shared short stories and anecdotes about how they’re feeling during the pandemic as part of the initiative launched by the Center for Healthy Minds and Practice and UF Health Employee Wellness.

Enjoy reading these reflections from our employees, as we all continue to power through the pandemic.

2020

Alisha-Kai Evans, a registered nurse in the obstetrics and gynecology department, authored this reflection on the ups and downs of this year.

I wish I could say ten years from now in 2030 that 2020 was a great year. Let us not fool ourselves. This year is a never-ending cyclone of illness, division, fear and uncertainty.

As health care professionals, we are faced with the monster known as COVID-19. Its partners in crime are misinformation and ignorance.

As we face this silent creature face to face, we don our armor of PPE here in the hospital and out in public. When we face our fellow citizens on the streets, we are either met with thanks or shunned as pariahs. The monster and its cohorts do not just represent a virus that attacks our immune system but also the current political and social climate we face in this nation.

Americans are divided about how to handle COVID-19, systematic racism, police brutality, and a plethora of other issues that 2020 has decided to bombard us daily in our newsfeeds or on television. I would love to wake up tomorrow to the news that the virus has finally been eradicated, justice is served for Breonna Taylor, the economy is back on track, kids can go to school without masks, police brutality is banned and people are tolerant of other ethnicities. Unfortunately, it is not that easy.

As this darkness surrounds us, hope is not lost. There have been glimmers of it poking small holes into the black veil. While the holes may be small, the good deeds are not:

1. Witnessing my coworkers and hospital staff banding together to kneel in a moment of silence to honor the memory of George Floyd at all of our campuses and offices showed that we were not going to take police brutality as the norm anymore.

2. The amounts of GoFundMe pages and groups set up to help those displaced from their jobs due to COVID-19 restrictions showed me that even though some of us have so little right now, we are willing to help our fellow man have enough to eat or a safe place to stay.

3. Overhearing one poll worker say to another worker, “Wow, we have a lot of new voters today,” during the recent state primary gave me hope in civility and justice.

4. Seeing the images of patients that have won their private battle with COVID-19 and the gratitude towards the medical staff that fought the battle alongside of them made me optimistic as a nurse.

We only have a few weeks left in this year. Till then, I will wake every morning, take things day to day and continue to look at the small victories we have had this year.

On the horizon 2021 waits. Will it be the year that we evolve into a better society? We can only hope and wait.

This Pandemic has Turned Lives Upside Down

Kristle Foster, a registered nurse in the Medical Intensive Care Unit, or MICU, describes what it was like for her unit to transition into a COVID-19 unit.

In the unprecedented time of what seemed like a bad dream, our unit was selected as the primary COVID-19 Unit. There was silence in the midst of huddles, as if warriors were getting ready for the war. As the days progressed, we felt our team getting stronger, resilient and even creative. We became each other’s support, encouraging to push through in a very difficult time. We started making light of the situation by coming up with terms like “COVID Land” and “COVID Nation.” We held prayers in the beginning of shifts to bring hope and faith to life. In the saddest moments of this pandemic, we stood strong and kept on. This is when I realized that we were chosen to be part of history. We were celebrated for our optimism. And we are continuing the fight. We are brave. We are here. We are MICU.

An Essay

Florance Brannon, a chaplain, shares a personal experience from the pandemic.

I am thankful for this opportunity to share my experience with COVID-19.

My son who lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, came down with the virus, and as a mother, I found that I had to take a dose of my own medicine and pray. I was blessed that he had a friend that was a nurse and able to check on him daily, and when he didn’t look too good, she called 911 and had him transported to the hospital.

I am truly thankful for the wonderful medical staff that took excellent care of him. I was allowed to call and receive updates between 10 am and 1 pm daily. If the nurse was not available during that time, she would call me back and provide me with that update. It was such a great relief to receive those updates; it truly eased my mind.

He is now out of the hospital and doing much better. I am truly thankful for God hearing and answering our prayers and for putting people in place to be such a blessing when we are not able to be with our loved ones.

This is my own testimony for the effect COVID-19 has had on my family, and how I took a dose of my own medicine and prayed as well as believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Finding the Quiet, Even for a Moment

Katie Carpenter, patient experience officer, explains why it’s important to find peace and quiet amid the disruptions caused by the pandemic.  

As the world changed, as our lives changed, I expected us to get quieter; for the world to become more still as we waited for the next move.

The next move felt like a game, what card was I going to pull, what number was I going to roll? As we played the game, it didn’t become quieter as I expected, the noise intensified with each new turn, update, news story, or social media post.

We stayed home and worked, now with additional humans whom we love in our spaces who created more noise. The noise intensified to barbaric levels as we continued on with our work through media platforms such as Zoom. “Is everyone on?” “Can everyone see my screen?” Even the awkward silence waiting for everyone to arrive was deafening. “Can everyone please mute themselves, there is a lot of background noise.” Yes, can we please mute ourselves?

Can we please mute the tears for our family members and friends we have lost to this terrible virus? Can we mute the political fighting about PPE and where to place blame? Can we mute the extra thoughts in our heads as we worry about our family and their safety when we come to work in a hospital?

As we covered our faces with masks I hoped for quiet. I hoped for quiet, respectful communication, but the yelling intensified. No one can hear our muffled words under our masks, but they can see our tears fall in compassion for those around us; they can see us attempting to communicate.

Months have passed, we keep trying, showing up, fighting every day for the safety of those around us. We are learning to drown out the noise and find places of solitude and quiet. If you look for it, you can find it, the quiet is all around us, but you just have to be willing to stop listening to the noise and rest there, even if just for a moment.

Our series will continue with one more collection of short stories from employees. Find more inspiring posts and updates about our physicians, providers, nurses and staff by following our UF Health Jacksonville social media pages.

About the Author

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Jonathan Vredenburg

Wellness Educator

Jon is an educator in the Employee Wellness Program for UF Health. Jon has also served as the wellness program coordinator for the City of…

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