Compassionate care in a time of crisis

Two nurses stay bedside as a patient with COVID-19 passes away

Norton Brownsboro Hospital nurses Julia Hunt, R.N., M.S.N. and Audrey Waters, R.N., knew there would be hard days on the job, but they never could have predicted the COVID-19 pandemic and how it would affect them both.

A patient in their medical-surgical unit, 87-year-old Keiko Neutz, had been in their care with COVID-19 for several days. Julia and Audrey grew fond of Keiko and her large family, but as the coronavirus outbreak intensified, the hospital had to restrict visitors for everyone’s safety.

Keiko’s granddaughter arranged for a laptop to be placed near the bedside at the hospital. Through an app called Houseparty, family members could visit virtually with the patient at any time. They also could see she was not doing well, and was not likely to recover.

One last thing

Knowing they would not be at Keiko’s bedside for her final moments, the family asked Audrey to grant them one request: Be sure someone would be physically by Keiko’s side until the end. Nurses and staff on the unit agreed to support the family’s request.

As the end approached, Julia, Audrey, their managers and the charge nurse gathered outside the room.

“We stood outside of the room and said a prayer for [Keiko] and her family. I was just overcome with emotions while we were praying, because I was thinking about her, the family, how sweet they are, what a great family that they are,” Julia said.

Then the nurses went in. They held Keiko’s hands, explained what was happening and showed her the laptop screen with her family’s faces. Then they stood back and let the family have their last precious moments together.

“I’m really, really blessed that I was able to be in the room with her so that she didn’t have to be physically by herself. Although, emotionally she was with her family members,” Julia said.

Julia and Audrey stayed with Keiko until she passed. An act they felt honored to do.

Giving back

Since Keiko’s passing, the family has donated money to purchase laptops for other families to use. The family’s idea of utilizing the House Party app has been used many times by families who want to interact with their loved one who is in isolation at the hospital.

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