In our efforts to help highlight those in our community on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are bringing interviews from around New England.
Kathleen Grennen is a Registered Nurse on the Pediatrics unit at Concord Hospital, and a longtime member of the running community in Concord.
“Especially during this age of social distancing, I think it’s been helpful finding peace and energy in the natural world, and the sunnier weather is a bonus.”
How are you involved in caring for Coronavirus patients?
Children with COVID-19 are commonly asymptomatic, but as nurses we are still expected to test patients who have a positive screening, and then adhere to the proper PPE and treatment guidelines while results are pending. The information we gather helps us treat children and families and collects data for the community.
Do you exercise? If so, what do you do?
I love to spend time outside walking, jogging, hiking, or exploring the woods and lakes with my beagle, Charlie. He loves to run and swim, and totally keeps me on my toes. Especially during this age of social distancing, I think it’s been helpful finding peace and energy in the natural world, and the sunnier weather is a bonus.
What do you tell yourself before you go to work so you feel positive and safe all day?
Before I go into work, I’m often subconsciously reflecting on my purpose with inner talk:“How do I want to give it my all today? How will I really reach people? Am I tired or energized, and how will I use this feeling to help families?” I often have different answers for these questions each time I go to work. This honest conversation with myself helps me feel centered, positive and safe, and inspires me to move forward in times of uncertainty.
How do you relax, refocus and/or recover mentally and physically from the daily tolls of your job?
Talking to loved ones, spending time outdoors, sleep, energizing food, and hot showers help me refocus and recover. It helps to talk about what’s currently happening in the world and at work and how I feel about those important issues, but I also find it necessary to take a break from it all and have quiet, present moments.
Does your facility have enough PPE and ventilators if you were to have a surge in COVID-19 patients?
Many hospitals are facing PPE and general equipment shortages, and ours is not exempt from that. Regardless, I think our hospital has excelled at preparing and adapting for a potential surge—building safe airborne precaution rooms, making guidelines and policies that are updated hour-by-hour (including PPE conservation practices), keeping staff informed every day through e-mails and telemeetings. But it’s still scary to think about the resources needed for a potential surge, and keeping staff healthy enough to take care of the public.
What could the community do for your place of work that would have an immediate and substantial impact on either the staff and/or patients?
It’s heartwarming to see the community reach out to the hospital and donate masks and other equipment, place encouraging signs on their lawns, and even give meals to healthcare workers. Besides donations and offerings, I think simple kindness also goes a long way. We are all affected differently by the virus and how it has changed our livelihood: it’s important to stay together, be present, and have empathy.
Is there anything else you want our customers to know about the situation?
Keep washing your hands and using smart distancing practices even if we are not projected to get a surge. At the same time, take care of yourself and your mental health, and stay socially connected. Get outdoors!