On the front lines: Froedtert ICU nurses speak about fight against coronavirus

On the front lines: Froedtert ICU nurses speak about fight against coronavirus

WAUWATOSA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The videos of patients leaving the hospital after recovering from Covid-19 have been a bright spot lately. They show up on the news and in social media feeds—hallways lined with cheering doctors and nurses, happy to celebrate any victory against the virus.

Melissa Gregor is the Director of Critical Care Nursing at Froedtert Hospital. She and her team of nurses in the Medical ICU and the Cardiovascular ICU have been on the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic for months. Those celebrations of a patient’s success are what they work for everyday.

“We're always on our toes,” Gregor said with a laugh, referring with humor to the difficult work she and her staff do every day.

Gregor said the MICU and CVICU are both award winning units, and they’ve both been designated as critical care units for Covid patients.

“These are extremely ill patients,” Gregor said. “It can be really hard, especially in that critical care environment. It's a heavy environment.”

She’s worked hard to care for her staff of ICU nurses, while they care for their patients around the clock.

“Our nurses are top notch,” she said. “They are so dedicated to these patients and I see it every day first hand when I'm in the units.”

Nurse Manager Liz White has worked side by side with Gregor.

“However people are handling it, we have to be open to that and we have to be able to support one another,” White said of the teamwork she sees at the hospital.

The community has come together to help support the nurses with meals that have been delivered, and sidewalk encouragement that has helped keep them going.

“I can't tell you how many times the community has sent forward meals, cards of encouragement, treats,” Gregor said appreciatively. “Just an incredible amount of support from our community.”

Gregor made the move to nursing 10 years ago from a different career. She said even facing the unknown of the pandemic, she wouldn’t change a thing.

“It was the best move I ever made, and I am absolutely passionate about my role as a nurse, but especially as a nurse leader,” she said.

Both women said it’s the patients who recover who keep them going.

“It's not only a boost for us as care providers to see our patients have successful outcomes, but it's really important for our staff to see this because it's really a morale booster for them as well,” Gregor said.

There’s one patient both White and Gregor said stood out to them.

“It was a very heartfelt message a patient had put on a Facebook post originally,” Gregor explained.

That post was from City of Milwaukee Municipal Court Judge Derek Mosley.

“I was in the hospital 12 days, eight of those in the ICU,” Mosley recalled of the experience he called lonely and terrifying.

His post went viral. Thousands of people shared and commented on his story of survival. He wanted to make sure the Froedtert nurses knew how much he appreciated their work.

“The sacrifices they were making to make sure I felt comfortable, and that I got healthy, I just wanted everybody to know that,” Mosley said.

He was thankful for nurses who made sure he wasn’t alone.

“It was just extremely heartfelt, we shared that with our nurse and really honored her internally for the work she did in the MICU,” Gregor remembered.

“It’s just another reinforcement to our nursing staff that you guys were the ones that contributed to this success story right here,” White said.

Gregor knows what the experience is like. She got Covid when a family member brought it home.

“We were really fortunate to be able to contain it quickly in our home, and also again, very fortunate that we had mild cases,” she said.

Both nurses said seeing patients celebrate their recoveries is the goal, but they also want people to remember the pandemic is far from over.

“That it's real. This is real,” White said seriously.

“My advice is, people do really need to take this seriously moving forward,” Gregor said.

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