Lauren Borell, an RN at Methodist Hospital (Courtesy photo/The Minnesota Reformer).
By Lauren Borrell
I am a nurse at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park. I am tired and defeated. After our recent three-day strike, I went to work at 7 a.m., and I wanted to leave as soon as I walked into the hospital.
We were short staffed — again. I made an “aware,” which is a hospital term we use that means a report of unsafe staffing, hospital conditions, maintenance or security issues.
My aware went to my unit manager. We had a 30 minute conversation about my feelings and how disappointed I am in my leaders.
I decided to send an email to CEO Andrea Walsh and Vice President Melissa Fritz.
I want to make everyone aware that nurses are suffering, and health care is on the brink of collapse.
Below is the email that I sent to the CEO and VP.
My name is Lauren Borell and I am a 22-year-old registered nurse at Methodist Hospital. All I ever wanted to be was a nurse.
A recent Thursday was the worst day of my nursing career. Let me explain. I have been in the medical field since I was 16. The day I wanted to be a nurse was the first day I ever watched someone die.
Long story short: I was parasailing with my mom in the middle of the ocean when the captain had a heart attack. I performed CPR on him for over 15 minutes — just me — because no one else knew how to do it. I felt ribs cracked, I had blood and vomit all over me, and I watched this complete stranger take his last breath in my arms.
I became a certified nursing assistant at a local nursing home, where I cared for moms, dads, grandpas and grandmas. I’d watch their hearts break because their family didn’t come see them. I held their hands as their soul left them because I was the only person there. I cleaned their excrement, fed them, listened to their stories, washed their hair because there was no one else to care for them. All I ever wanted to be was a nurse.
I started taking pre requisites for nursing school in high school. When I got to college I applied for a scholarship, and the scholarship application asked one question: Why do you want to be a nurse?
I told them the story of watching that stranger die in my arms. The scholarship allowed me to focus on my passion because it helped pay for my tuition. I helped teachers educate students on the fundamentals of nursing. I joined as many committees as I could to share my passion with other students and peers. All I ever wanted to be was a nurse.
I became a nurse intern at Methodist. I learned what kind of nurse I wanted to be and where I wanted to work as an RN. I did my capstone on a unit for critical care patients in the fall.
All I had was COVID-19 patients. I listened to the BiPap alarms, ran into rooms only to realize the machine was pumping air into a lifeless body. I listened to families sob on the phones because COVID didn’t allow them to say goodbye to their loved one. All I ever wanted to be was a nurse.
I became a full-time RN at Methodist in February. Part time, I also became a home health nurse for a terminally ill 8 year old boy.
At Methodist, I have been verbally harassed, physically assaulted and mentally abused by patients. But it’s OK, because I am finally a nurse. I’ve taken five to seven patients at a time since being a nurse, which puts patient safety at risk, but it’s okay because I am finally a nurse. I started leaving work defeated after a long day, feeling unsupported from my leaders and sitting in my car in the parking lot, crying, but’s it’s OK because I am finally a nurse.
I had the privilege of loving an 8-year-old during his final months. Seeing him was my escape from the hospital because I never left crying. I wanted to go to work with him. I watched an 8-year-old boy die, and the next day I went back to work at the hospital for my shift. We were short staffed, unsupported, and I was mourning a child. I cried in the bathroom for my lunch break, but it’s okay because I am finally a nurse.
After all the death I have seen since I was 16, after all the hateful words I’ve heard from patients, after all the days short-staffed and struggling to keep my head up, nothing compares to that terrible Thursday.
Going through a strike is like going through a messy divorce. I didn’t think coming back from a three-day strike was going to be easy, but I didn’t know it was going to make me not want to be a nurse. Walking into the hospital and seeing management say good morning was the biggest slap in the face, and man did it sting. The travel nurses got free lunches. The hospital was paying them more than twice what I make. That hurt. But when I learned they were overstaffed with travel nurses? That crushed me.
In other words, the three days that we went on strike, patients had more safety than I have ever given them since February. Leaders and hospital administrators were there 24/7 supporting the travel nurses, but for their own employees? We have had no support. Everyone left as soon as we got there — no support, no help, and no confidence. We were understaffed a day after the strike ended. Five patients for the nurses’ assignments. No free lunches, no extra pay for doing the job of two nurses.
I realized on that day, that this isn’t okay just because I am finally a nurse.
Methodist ripped my passion for nursing away from me on that day. All I’ve ever wanted to be was a nurse. I have no faith in any hospital leaders or administrators. If you have the privilege of reading this email, my name is Lauren Borell RN, I am 22 years old and a nurse at Methodist. I have no idea who my leaders are, and I would love to talk with them because all I’ve ever wanted to be was a nurse and I’m not done fighting for my passion yet.
Lauren Borell is a registered nurse at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, Minn. She wrote this piece for the Minnesota Reformer, a sibling site of the Pennsylvania Capital-Star, where it first appeared.
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