Patricia Sadoski: Now is the time to honor all nurses for their work through the pandemic

They worked tirelessly at the expense of their own families and health.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah artist Heather Olsen, left, talks with Intermountain Healthcare nurse Maria Black as they talk about the nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists, clinical and non-clinical workers that inspired Olsen’s new painting paying tribute to frontline health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Monday, April 5, 2021 in Murray.

Looking back most of us will remember this year as an endless watershed moment. Most could not have predicted how our year evolved. It has been a year of contemplation for me and others in my cohort. I have had time to think about what was important to me, what I really cared about as well as what I feared.

I remember in early March hearing about a “flu” that was deadly and occurring in large numbers in countries on the other side of the world. Many people were dying and, in the U.S., we thought it would not affect us. It did not take long to be on our shores. With the amount of international travel and the lack of pinpoint information about what this disease was and how it was transmitted, it appeared here. It seemed to explode simultaneously in big cities on both coasts and eventually hit every country in the world and every state in the U.S.

More than a year later we have learned so much and felt such conflicting emotions. Horror, shame, dismay, revulsion, grief, admiration, gratitude and pride come to mind. So many people experienced horror at how their lives were turned upside down and the number of deaths. Or shame for behaviors that flaunted the very things we knew would protect us all. Or dismay at the rapid pace of this virus to inject itself into every corner of our world. Or perhaps revulsion at some leaders’ lack of consideration and disrespect for science. Many felt grief at the immense loss of lives, livelihoods and our anticipated futures.

Early on there was much admiration for the medical teams, nurses and scientists who worked endlessly to care for and conquer this demon virus. Many felt gratitude for survival and for finally getting the vaccine to protect and prevent. Some felt pride in the wherewithal and integrity of the medical professions and teams that gave their all with sacrifices and exhaustion. Way too many died in the process of trying to save.

Remember the warnings as Memorial Day loomed. We were cautioned to not congregate and to wear masks. That became a recurring theme. That was nearly a year ago. We are now looking back at how we failed to listen and protect and at how many loved ones we lost, never even able to say good-bye or celebrate their existence.

I want to remind you on this upcoming Nurse’s Week how very much that profession has contributed to our care and recovery. They “stood in” for us as we were not able to say goodbye in person. They worked tirelessly often at the expense of family and their own health. They volunteered to help in other cities where the virus raged. They cared for us all and their own as we squabbled about ridiculous things like wearing a mask. They saw death up close and regularly and they kept working. They reminded us of standards of protocol in public health often insulted by people not believing it was real.

Finally in December they embarked on the burdensome drive to vaccinate our populace with the front-line medical workers, vulnerable seniors and the rest of us. They counted syringes, measured diluent, drew up the vaccine and organized teams to inject thousands with the life-saving vaccine. They collaborated with cities to organize the safest methods and places to vaccinate in large numbers.

National Nurses Week is May 6 to 12. Please honor nurses who along with many others in the medical profession dedicated their talents to conquer this virus. Honor them by getting vaccinated so they never have to experience this again.

Patricia Sadoski

Pat Sadoski, is a nurse consultant with seniors, living in Cache Valley.