Nurses on video call

Diane Tsitos, Julie Cormican and Vedna Lacombe-Heywood video chat with nurses at UMC.

After the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, nurses and interprofessional staff at the Brigham received an outpouring of support from other hospitals. Since then, Burn, Trauma and Surgical Intensive Care Unit nurses have made it their mission to pay it forward and reach out to nurses throughout the country after tragic events in their communities. This proud tradition continues today and is also carried forth by other units during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

“There’s something to be said about taking care of an influx of patients who have been involved in a large-scale traumatic event,” said Julie Cormican, BSN, RN, who now works in Angiography/Interventional Radiology. “We as nurses generally push our emotions aside to be able to care for our patients, no matter the circumstance. But it takes on a whole new meaning when something happens in your community and you are unsure if your family, friends and neighbors are safe.”

Not long after the 2013 marathon, Assistant Nursing Director Sharon Swan, MSN, RN, CCNS, and Nursing Director Diane Tsitos, MSN, RN, organized a collection among Braunwald Tower 8AB and 8CD staff to provide a lobster bake for nurses at a West Texas hospital after an explosion in the area brought numerous victims to the hospital.

Then, Cormican and colleague Vedna Lacombe-Heywood, RN, continued the act of kindness in 2017 with outreach to nurses in Southern Nevada after a deadly music festival shooting in Las Vegas. After providing a donation that was used for Starbucks gift cards, several members of the Braunwald Tower 8CD team flew out to Las Vegas to meet with the nurses and talk about their experiences.

Emergency department nurses

Brigham Emergency Department staff show their support for hospitals in New York City.

Last year, Heywood and Cormican organized an effort to support colleagues at the University Medical Center (UMC) in El Paso after a shooting at a local Walmart. They contacted former Brigham trauma nurse Lynette Perales Delgado, RN, who worked at the Brigham at the time of the Boston Marathon Bombing. After moving to El Paso, Perales Delgado worked at UMC for a time and facilitated a connection for the Brigham team’s donation.

The Braunwald Tower 8CD team collected enough funds to provide lunch for 120 nurses spanning four shifts in the UMC Trauma and Emergency Department. Nurses from both hospitals met virtually afterward via a Skype call to express their support and appreciation for each other. This was covered by KVIA ABC-7, an ABC affiliate in Texas. View the story here.

“We know the sacrifices staff make to care for patients and families during these situations,” said Lacombe-Heywood. “These donations are a way for us to say, ‘We see you. You are our sisters and brothers in this work and we can lean on each other.’ With these events unfortunately becoming commonplace, it is our hope that we can start a network with other nurses who have been affected by these types of traumas.”

This was the feeling of nurses in the Brigham Emergency Department last month as they watched news reports of hospitals in New York City hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Remembering how comforting it felt to receive a delivery of pizza from another hospital after the Boston Marathon bombings, they sought to do something.

“We wanted to let our colleagues in NYC EDs know that our hearts are with them and that they are constantly in our thoughts,” said Lisa MacGregor, BSN, RN.

Along with Tama Baker, BSN, RN, and Caroline Souza, BSN, RN, MacGregor led a collection among staff in the ED. Thanks to the generosity of the ED team, they were able to send 80 individually wrapped, restaurant-quality meals from Off Their Plate to two emergency departments in New York.

When the meals were received, published an article on the Brigham team’s efforts, available here.