‘There’s always a smile behind our masks’: Nurses stay positive amid COVID-19 pandemic

Published: Mar. 25, 2020 at 3:33 PM CDT
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With day one of the “Safer at Home” initiative underway, most people across the state are transitioning their homes into home offices. But for medical health professionals, leaving home is a requirement of their profession.

“[It’s] a world shut down. Everybody’s at home, but we’re still here, out on the road, coming to work and actually having fun. Trying to make it the best we can, because it is a very scary time for many,” says Lynn Giroux, a registered nurse with UW Health Surgical Services.

Amid a global pandemic, Giroux and fellow registered nurse Michelle Hornung work to bring happiness to their patients.

“If you didn’t laugh, you’d probably cry,” Hornung says. “Because people are scared, and you have to lead by example.”

Hornung says it is “all washed hands on deck,” as COVID-19 continues to spread across the globe. She explains her hospital shifts vary day-by-day and even hour-by-hour.

“Sometimes we come in and we have no clue where we’re going to be during the day. But it doesn’t matter, because we’re here,” Hornung tells NBC15 News. “We have the knowledge base and we can just help out wherever we can.”

Since the outbreak, new precautions have been put into place at UW Health. Employees now wear an additional layer of “personal protection equipment,” including gloves, a gown, a facemask and a face shield. UW Health has also suspended visitation hours for hospital patients.

“I went into nursing because I love taking care of patients and helping people in need. And right now, with this all going on, it makes me more proud of myself that I’m here, in the front line, helping people,” Giroux tells NBC15 News.

Hornung agrees, saying now, more than ever, she is proud of her “meaningful” career choice.

“I wanted to be there for somebody’s first breath, I wanted to be there for somebody’s last breath. Now that we have a pandemic on our hands, it is literally all hands on deck,” she says.

While the days are long and sometimes draining, both nurses say there is always a way to stay positive.

“You have to keep some type of smile on your face. There’s always a smile behind our masks,” Hornung says.

Both nurses say they also value time to decompress after work, unwinding by talking a walk, doing yoga or having a virtual happy hour with friends via FaceTime.

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