Nurses Week: Vassar ICU Nurse Julie Chapman Is a Warrior
Nurses have always deserved our love and respect. The lengths nurses have gone to support patients and their families during the global coronavirus pandemic only highlight that. Townsquare Media of the Hudson Valley is honoring a different Hudson Valley nursing professional each day during Nurses Week. For Wednesday, we're pleased to recognize Julie Chapman, who was nominated by her husband Larry.
Julie Chapman and her fellow health care professionals at Vassar Brothers Medical Center are warriors in Larry Chapman's eyes. Larry's impassioned letter nominating his wife Julie to be recognized by Townsquare Media of the Hudson Valley during Nurses Week reflected on the unique challenges and acts of heroism in the intensive care unit.
"I've always known she was tough, but never realized what a warrior she is. I don’t use that term lightly. In the most meaningful of ways, the ICU is a war zone. She takes it all in stride," Larry wrote about Julie, who has been a nurse for 16 years with the past nine of them working in the ICU.
When the coronavirus pandemic began and Vassar Brothers Medical Center asked nursing staff if they would be available for extra shifts, Julie's answer was unequivocal: "Any day that I'm not scheduled."
Julie and her coworkers welcomed nurses who don't typically work on the ICU floor. Together they've adapted, improvised and responded quickly to patients in crisis. During a typical year in the ICU, techniques like proning—which involves turning a patient in respiratory distress on his or her stomach to increase oxygen intake—will occur a couple of times. Now Julie and other ICU nurses are proning multiple patients a day, Larry wrote.
Not only are nurses like Julie managing the physical needs of their critically ill patients, they also must attend to their emotional needs. Coronavirus patients can't have visitors and Julie helps keeps them connected to family members through video conferencing platforms Zoom. Julie needs to "bridge the love" between patients and family, including during their final moments, Larry told us.
"So how do these nurses remain strong for the fight, for the next shift, for the endless parade of new cases? Mostly I don’t know and I think neither do they," Larry wrote. "If I was to guess I’d say that they are tapping into parts of the human spirit that most civilians never need to access. ... It may lie dormant in all of us but only a few of us will ever need the strength to access it and order the chaos in times of crisis. .... No one knows that more than an ICU nurse."