Portraits of COVID nurses, by COVID nurses
"I am so lucky to work every day with such an amazing group of people."
May 22, 2020
Schantel Travers, RN, who has worked at VUMC seven months. Self portrait.
Breanna Urena and Elizabeth Smyth, nurses on Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Medical Center East eighth floor, know they work in a special place. That unit, known as 8MCE, was a Medicine and Cardiac stepdown unit until March, when it was converted to the dedicated COVID-19 unit at Vanderbilt.
“The stepdown nurses on 8MCE were the first ones to admit COVID patients into VUMC,” Urena said. “Every nurse (who normally care for cardiac or medicine patients) stepped up and took charge of this crazy situation.”
“We provide compassionate care to every patient who is admitted to our floor,” Smyth said. “It’s an honor to care for these patients and I am so lucky to work every day with such an amazing group of people.”
To care for the most critically ill patients with COVID-19, an intensive care area was also established on 8MCE and nurses with experience in ICUs began working in that area, while other patients were cared for on the stepdown side of the unit, where these photographs were taken. (Two of the nurses who work in the ICU part of the COVID unit were previously profiled in VUMC Voice here and here.)
Because they work in an area with restricted access due to the infectious nature of COVID-19, the people who call 8MCE their work home have not been seen much, even as they were at the center of one of the most closely watched events in modern times.
To help show some of the people who are providing COVID care at VUMC, Smyth and Urena, with the support of the 8MCE leadership, led a project to take these portraits of some of those providing patient care on the stepdown side of the COVID unit — portraits of COVID unit nurses, taken by COVID unit nurses (with a couple of other employees on the unit, too).
Some of the nurses also included information about themselves, who took the photo (many are self portraits), or a statement to go with their photograph. Some chose to let the picture speak for itself.
When you hear calls to honor the front-line workers dealing with the pandemic — here are the faces of some of the people they’re talking about.
Breanna Wilcox Urena, RN, BSN, PCCN. Has worked at VUMC two-and-a-half years. “I feel like my coworkers and I have developed a special bond throughout this experience. You can try to talk about it with your friends and family, but my coworkers are the only ones who really understand. I’m so thankful for them!”
Elizabeth Smyth RN, BSN, PCCN. Has worked at VUMC two-and-a-half years. “To my coworkers, your strength and resilience amazes me every day. Thank you for your constant encouragement for each other and compassionate care for our patients. To my neighbors in Nashville and beyond, thank you for stepping up to the challenge by social distancing and isolating. Times are not easy right now and it is up to us to look out for one another!”
Abby Baker, RN, BSN. Has worked at VUMC one year.
Rachel Knudsvig, RN, BS. Has worked at VUMC one year. Photo by Ania Szyfer, RN
Samantha Roelse, RN, BSN. Has worked at VUMC two years. Self portrait.
Amy Smith RN BSN. Has worked at VUMC two-and-a-half years. Self portrait.
Alayna Linton RN, BSN. Has worked at VUMC four-and-a-half years. “I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything; but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”-E.E. Hale
Abby DeFeo, RN, BSN. Has worked at VUMC two years. Photo by Maitlyn Gray, RN
Hamza Yunis, care partner on 8MCE. (Non-nurse participant).
Brooke Robinshaw RN, BSN, a new nurse resident at VUMC. Photo by Laurel Green, RN
Emmy Baxter RN, BSN. Has worked at VUMC six months. Self portrait.
Megan Werner RN, BSN. Has worked at VUMC three-and-a-half years. “Thank you 8MCE for being my family during these unprecedented times. I am so proud to be working alongside of you all. Thank you for all of the pep talks, the hugs, and all of the love. Nashville, thank you for continuing to stay home and stay safe. Let us allow good music and faith to heal.”
Katie Kelly RN, BSN. Has worked at VUMC six months. Photo by Laurel Green, RN.
Crystal Mancini, medical receptionist on 8MCE. (Non-nurse participant) Has worked at VUMC one-and-a-half years. “To my coworkers, keep your head up and stay strong. Hopefully things will get back to normal soon!”
Laurel Green RN, BSN. Has worked at VUMC two-and-a-half years. Self portrait.
Ania Szyfer RN, BSN. Has worked at VUMC for one year. Self portrait.
Alydia Partlow RN, BSN. Has worked at VUMC for one year. “It has been amazing to watch my coworkers step up and serve our community so selflessly. Thank you for making our patients and team your priority. To the community, please wash your hands and socially distance yourselves! We are in this together!”