Staff on 4100/4700 Units Commemorate COVID-19

On March 19, 2020, Saint Barnabas Medical Center’s 4100/4700 Units transitioned into a dedicated COVID-19 Unit. To mark the one-year anniversary and recognize the staff, Liz McCarthy, MSN, RN, Clinical Director, 4100/4700, coordinated “A Day of Acknowledgement” to allow the staff to look back on the year that they had experienced and to also look forward to the year ahead.

“I felt this milestone was important to acknowledge because it changed our patient population and focus completely. We have remained one of the few COVID-19 units, while others have returned to their normal operations,” Liz said.

Upon arrival at “A Day of Acknowledgement,” each staff member was asked to choose 2 river rocks from a bowl. Guiding her team, Liz asked them to choose one of the rocks and hold it tightly. She encouraged them to feel each ridge, and notice the smooth areas and shape. She asked them to picture the river that the stone came from; most likely cold, with loud rushing water that felt out of control. She equated these feelings with how the pandemic consumed their unit, work and lives. She asked her staff to write a word on the rock describing how they felt about the past year. Words like fear, suffocation, death, stress and depressed were written. Some nurses shared their word with the group before they placed their first rock in a bag that Liz had promised she would take away and they would never see again.

Liz, asking them to hold the remaining rock in their hand, explained how it has been taken from the same river as the first. But it was from lower down the mountain where the water was no longer cold, but refreshing and peaceful. She equated this part of the river to where they, as a team, were with COVID-19 – people getting vaccinated, patients not as sick, and hope. Each person was asked to write a word on the rock that described the attitude or feeling that they were bringing into their second year of COVID-19. Rocks with their inspiring words – hope, triumphant, team and love – have been placed in a shadow box that will be displayed on the unit.

During Nurses and Hospital Week, we thank 4100/4700 and the entire health care team for their unrelenting dedication to our mission as we continue to care for those in our community affected by COVID-19.