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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

Boston-Area Nurses: Valor Amid Horror

Published May 29, 2013 3:06 PM by Rich Krisher

ADVANCE recently got an inside look at how nurses and other healthcare professionals at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston are helping individuals critically injured in April's Boston Marathon bombings recover and move on with their lives. The physical and emotional care they're extending to the bombing victims is exemplary.

They've had the opportunity to receive positive feedback from their patients, in this case JP Norden of Stoneham, Mass., whose right leg was amputated below the knee: "I honestly cannot say enough about this place and the people who have cared for me," Norden told ADVANCE. "My morale has increased 500% since I've been here."

I couldn't help to think of the flipside of this situation. As detailed in a May 19 article in the Boston Globe, a select group of trauma nurses at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston was called upon to provide care for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the alleged perpetrators of the marathon bombing who was himself critically injured after a series of encounters with law enforcement officials before his eventual capture.

The newspaper interviewed seven of the nurses involved in his care. They did not wish to be identified, with an eye on negative treatment of the funeral director involved in burial of the other Tsarnaev accused of the bombing crime. They said they were proud of the care they provided, with the goal of ensuring their patient would face justice. However, their emotions were a mass of conflicts.

"When you're in the room, it's just a patient," one of the nurses told the newspaper. "You're here to ... make sure they're feeling better. When you step away, you take it in. I am compassionate, that's what we do. But should I be? The rest of the world hates him right now. The emotions are like one big salad, all tossed around.''

Have you found yourself in a similar circumstance? How did you respond? If not, what do you think your reaction would be?


Time for Healing

Get an inside look at how nurses are helping patients injured in Boston Marathon bombings recover and restore at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston. Read more here >>

posted by Rich Krisher


I have been in many situations such as that described.

A "salad of emotions" is definitely appropriate to describe the volatile feelings that can be sequestered while busily caring for the patients that need interventions. A gentle touch, soothing words, adequate pain control, all of those and more become second nature to the critical care nurse. It's the amount of support and debriefing that is available at the end of your shift that makes a difference.

How else could we care for those who took an axe to their wives, and then got stabbed in the fray? Or the man on his 3rd DUI, dying of multiple vehicular injuries, who killed an entire family on his last nite out? It takes a special kind of compassion to do the work nurses do, particularly to endure the "salad" of emotions & realize deep down inside, we still wouldn't do anything else!

Diane June 5, 2013 5:05 PM

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