Family medicine nurse Monique Morris contracted COVID-19 early in the pandemic, leading to nine days on a ventilator in the ICU and several months of recovery.
DETROIT – When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Detroit in mid-March, Monique Morris, R.N., and her nursing colleagues at Henry Ford Hospital worked tirelessly to provide compassionate and expert care for the influx of COVID-19 patients. It was a time when Henry Ford Hospital would have been celebrating achieving Magnet® Recognition, the highest national honor for nursing excellence, but like many parts of society amid the pandemic, the celebrations would have to wait.
For many nurses, including Monique who has been practicing for three years, the COVID-19 pandemic presented challenges unlike any they had encountered before.
“Not only was the patient volume extremely high, but we were dealing with something that was new and far less understood at that time,” Morris said. “We were focused on providing the best care possible for every patient who came in. We were all very careful in wearing the appropriate PPE, but even that was a challenge due to the national supply shortage that was affecting hospitals across the country.”
Despite being someone who is meticulously professional as a nurse, even serving as a hand hygiene coach for fellow staff and residents who are at Henry Ford to learn,
Monique began showing symptoms of COVID-19 and was hospitalized on March 25, following a positive test.
A Long Road to Recovery
“I was critically ill in the ICU on a ventilator for nine days. I was so unsure of whether I was going to live or die,” Morris said. “I wasn’t breathing on my own and at that time, there was no visitation in the hospital. I was blessed to have ended up in the same place where I work, so I was surrounded by friends, colleagues and familiar faces who shared air hugs, kisses and tears from outside my window.”
For Monique, the hardest part of overcoming COVID-19 was getting off the ventilator and back to breathing on her own.
“I was breathing through a straw and watching the clock. The seconds felt like hours as I focused simply on trying to breathe in and breathe out,” said Morris. “My doctors and providers were very confident I would pull through once I got to a certain point, but there was still that uncertainty within myself because I had never been ill to that extent.”
On April 10, Monique was discharged and able to go home, but being out of the hospital, her road to recovery continued for several months, including physical therapy, walking with a cane and more. On July 1, she was able to return to work in a limited capacity – a moment that was meaningful for her.
“It was a huge thing for me, coming back to work. When your life revolves around purpose, it’s hard to sit and be idle at home,” Morris said. “There’s so much to see and do in the world. I am drawn to connecting with people and helping them heal. Even despite my battle with COVID, I’m grateful for the opportunity to continue doing that.”
The Highest National Honor for Nursing Excellence
While nurses at Henry Ford Hospital continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been some opportunity to reflect and appreciate their momentous accomplishment of achieving Magnet recognition in March 2020.
“Earning the Magnet recognition is something our staff has been working on for a number of years,” Gwen Gnam, R.N., Chief Nursing Officer and vice president of Patient Care Services at Henry Ford Hospital. “There’s an intense sense of pride among our staff for earning this recognition. It’s quite emotional and I think it’s something that they have deserved for a very long time.”
The American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Magnet Recognition Program® distinguishes organizations that meet rigorous standards for nursing excellence. With this credential, Henry Ford Hospital joins the global community of organizations that have earned Magnet recognition. Just a small and select group of U.S. healthcare organizations have done so.
“Achieving Magnet recognition is a culture. It's a journey,” said Gnam. “It’s one of professionalism. It's continuous learning, exemplary professional practice and making sure all the policies and practices in our hospital are evidence-based. It’s staying up to date on the latest nursing research, having shared decision making, professional development and mentoring for staff. There are so many aspects, it’s hard to describe in just a few words.”
Research demonstrates that Magnet recognition provides specific benefits to healthcare organizations and their communities, such as:
- Higher patient satisfaction with nurse communication, availability of help and receipt of discharge information.
- Lower risk of 30-day mortality and lower failure to rescue rates.
- Higher job satisfaction among nurses.
- Lower nurse reports of intentions to leave their positions.
According to Monique, this designation is emblematic of the commitment put forth every day by her nursing colleagues and her.
“The care I received when I was ill is a testament to the work we do every day – it demonstrates why Henry Ford Hospital is a teaching hospital and a pillar in our community,” said Morris. “When we learned that we achieved Magnet recognition, I was very sick and hospitalized. But, to know that I was a part of that process meant so much to me. The memory of helping earn that designation for Henry Ford Hospital is one that I will always carry with me.”
To learn more about nursing at Henry Ford and Henry Ford Hospital’s Magnet designation, visit henryford.com/hcp/henry-ford-hospital-nursing.
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