Meet Shellan Robinson, LPN, Ellicott Center
I love what I do. I can’t think of anything more rewarding than being a nurse: taking care of people in need, easing their pain, comforting and engaging them. In the last several months, with the arrival of COVID-19, we have experienced dramatic new challenges in our work. But one thing remains the same: I still love what I do.
I became a nurse because of my mother. I came to the United States from Jamaica with my brother and my mom when I was 16 years old, and went to Buffalo State College for my degree in social work. I enjoyed giving back to the community, but then my mother got sick. Spending time at the hospital, I saw that it was the nurses who cared for her 24/7. They literally nursed her back to health. I decided: That’s what I want to do.
I have been a nurse for eight years, and the challenges we face now at Ellicott Center are unlike anything I’ve experienced. I live with my husband and six-year-old daughter. As the schools are closed, many of us at the Center have had to make arrangements for childcare. I’m proud to say that we have all found relatives to care for our kids—my mother takes care of my daughter—and that no one on my unit has missed a single shift. We are living the new normal, adapting and adopting to the pandemic.
First thing when I arrive at the Center, I meet with the staff to set priorities and to address any health issues that may have arisen. Then I check in with the Residents, see what their needs are, and get them ready for breakfast and the rest of the day.
We practice social distancing at Ellicott Center, meaning that we rotate the Residents into the dining room, making sure that they are always at least six feet apart. As nurses, however, our work is hands-on; but we are equipped with all the necessary protective gear—masks, gloves and gowns—to ensure that we safeguard the health of the staff and Residents alike.
Social distancing is difficult for the Residents. Many don’t understand why they can’t join their friends in activities or have visits from family. We do everything we can to comfort them, engage them, and make them happy. We bring games to their rooms, tune the TV to their favorite channels, and help them arrange video calls with family. I also love listening to their stories—they bring so much to the table.
I empathize with every Resident. I feel their pain and share their joy. I bring a little sunshine into their lives—and they bring some into mine.
It is a daunting and exhausting experience. COVID-19 creates not only a physical burden, but an emotional one as well. Sometimes, when I get home, I break down and cry. But I always look forward to getting up the next morning and going back to see the Residents. I love them, I love what I do, and I know that we’re in this together.
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