GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Even though it’s Nurses Appreciation Week, ICU nurses Christine Pearson-Homik and Laura Krykwa won’t take any credit for their work.
“We’re celebrating nurses this week but we could not have don’t it without our team,” Krykwa said while sitting next to Pearson-Homik during a Zoom interview last week. “Our team comprises not only of nurses which are great. But, our doctors, our respiratory therapists, our lab technicians, our care providers, our PCAs, without them we seriously could not have survived this pandemic.”
Pearson-Homik and Krykwa are also both a part of the Service Employees International Union. They’ve said since the pandemic began back in March 2020, many nurses have worked double shifts, 14-16 hour days and picked up extra days to care for their patients, especially during the surges.
“Our ICU is really hit hard with the pandemic but we had nurses in other areas who had never cared for high-acuity ventilator patients who stepped up and took a crash course, if you will, to learn how to take care of patients that would normally be an ICU patient,” Krykwa said. “They took a two-day course to learn how to take care of ventilators and IV drips that would only be run in the ICU so they could help alleviate our burden.”
The nurses said their work can be tough, trying to help their patients beat COVID while protecting themselves and their emotional well-being.
“We know it’s stressful for the families and then trying to keep your stress down is real important,” said Pearson-Homik. “I always tell myself on a daily basis is ‘It can always be a lot worse.’ So, just to make myself positive, just because a lot of people have it a lot worse.”
However, they said what’s gotten them through the pandemic is the outpouring of love from the community. They have a wall filled with cards that kids made thanking them for their work. Other times people have sent them flowers and snacks and they've loved it all.
“I don’t consider myself a hero by any means,” Krykwa said. “This is what I signed up to do to help take care of people but the outpouring of love and support from everybody has truly been phenomenal.”