A Hawaiian nurse speaks with a nursing home resident
Credit: FatCamera/E+/Getty Images Plus

Well-coordinated efforts among colleagues was the key to successfully surviving the COVID-19 pandemic for a group nursing home workers who described the first two years of the pandemic as the most stressful and exhausting period of their careers. 

“We found ourselves immersed in the stresses and fears of working in a crowded facility, asking ourselves and each other, ‘How do we survive each day, each shift, each hour, and keep our residents and ourselves safe?,’ Hawaiian nursing home workers wrote in the July-August edition of Infection Control Today published Tuesday.  

“It is difficult to put into words the hardships we faced and the relentless burden we endured. Only those who were, and are, in it, can understand the painstaking tasks we accomplished to battle this historic pandemic,” they added in the “In Their Own Words” article. 

They said the first lesson of the pandemic learned was the meaning and importance of teamwork. Admissions Coordinator Rachel McKean said staff had to quickly learn how to adjust their patient care, challenge other co-workers about properly wearing personal protective equipment and focus on how they impacted outbreaks in the building. 

“You become a member of the COVID-buster team to promote cleanliness in the facility,” she said. “Our team worked so well together and put in so much work to get COVID-19 out of the building. Teamwork literally makes the dream work.”

Despite all of that, it still created chaos in their professional and personal lives, reported registered dietician Christina Seto-Mook. However, that chaos taught them to be more flexible. 

“Adaptability was another crucial aspect of managing COVID-19, as we were all experiencing and learning how to get through this unforgettable time together,” she said. 

They said the lessons learned hardened their foundation to overcome any adversity while still providing the best of care. 

“Two years of unknowingness. I look into their [patients’] eyes, and I see hope. I go on for another day. Why? To protect the things I love. I have no fear when I choose to love and protect. I kept myself safe, isolated, and clean to protect my people and the residents I care for. Why do I work so hard? Because when I go to work, the next day I want to see the same faces I saw the day before,” registered nursing Leina’ala Pilares concluded.