Brigham and Women’s nurse providing medical attention, emotional support for patients prohibited from seeing family

BOSTON (WHDH) - A nurse at Brigham and Women’s Hospital said she sees how changing visitor policies at local hospitals are impacting patients with and without coronavirus every day — so she stepped up to help one in need.

“My heart breaks for our patients,” Mary Kelley said. She has been a registered nurse for 14 years and was formerly working in the cardiology department before she was moved to the COVID-19 unit last week.

“Just a couple of weeks ago, I sensed my patient was truly anxious. She received a cardiac diagnosis so she was upset about it,” she explained.

With a no visitor policy in place at many hospitals, it has been tough for patients, their families and healthcare workers like Kelley.

“I walked in the room and my heart just broke for her so I quickly thought, ‘OK, I’m going to page the doctor,'” she recalled.

Kelley sent a message to the patient’s doctor asking if it would be OK to bring her to the glass pedestrian bridge so she could see her husband and daughter who would be waiting outside.

The doctor said yes.

“I just wheeled her down in a wheelchair and she looked out through the glass and her husband and daughter were there and they were looking up at here and they worded thank you to me,” Kelley said. “Just to physically see her, I think put them at ease to know that she was OK. Then she told me that it gave her the strength to go on the next few days.”

This particular patient was uplifted by Kelley’s incredible act of kindness. But, for COVID-19 patients, things are different and Kelly said it is heart-wrenching to see first hand.

“Coronavirus patients have to be obviously on strict precautions,” she explained. “We have to have limited exposure so we’re in the room but it’s just not my typical type of nursing when I am in there for several hours talking to patients. It makes it hard.”

At the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, nearly 200 employees have tested positive for the virus.

Kelley said that she often worries about running out of personal protective equipment and bringing the virus home to her husband and two young children after a shift.

“I would be lying to say if I was scared when I go to work, but I, when I’m there I feel determined,” she said. “It’s just, it’s a great sense of teamwork, we have to work together at this time.”

These doctors and nurses are not only providing medical attention but also the support families cannot offer right now.

“It’s a scary time,” Kelley said. “I am anxious about it but I would not have it any other way. I love being an RN. I love working at the Brigham. This is what we do. I just have to go to work and do what I do.”

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