My friend Kristi will have been gone for 5 years on May 8th. Although she was only 34 when she died, she had a love for life like no one you have ever met. She was graceful and kind, she spoke her mind but never used words to hurt. The night she died a piece of me died as well. We had worked together in the ER and had become very good friends in a short period of time. The following is a letter that Dr. Jeff Ho had written about the night Kristi had died. She will be remembered by all of us and will forever hold a special place in our hearts.
Last Night by Jeff Ho, MD
Last night, while on duty, I had a glimpse of greatness. This was not in the will or courage of my patients. It was not in the brilliance or courtesy of my consultants. It was not in the organization of the institution in which I work. Rather, it was in the death of a co-worker.
This particular co-worker had been ill for sometime, bravely fighting a losing battle that everyone realized was drawing to a close. She had not worked a clinical shift in over a year but she was very much a member of our department family and not a day passed when she was not thought of or spoken about.
Last evening, in the midst of some 60 plus patients in our department, a call came through to our nursing station to pass on the information that our friend and colleague had just passed away. Our workplace mood became immediately somber. Tears were shed. Several co-workers received permission to leave the shift to be with the grieving family. Appropriately, a gloomy and overcast sky began to rain down on our corner of the world.
The charge nurse and I huddled briefly to plan and strategy to continue to staff our busy clinical areas even though we were down several key personnel and the mood of the moment really did not lend itself to the hard work of caring for the sick and injured. As if on cue, our EMS dispatch notified us of multiple critically ill patients destined for our hospital from several unrelated incidents.
When it was all over, we counted 8 critical patients that moved through our resuscitation area in under 90 minutes, all destined for either the operating room or the intensive care unit. I was amazed at how our short-staffed team rose to the challenge without complaint or question. The EMS system triaged appropriately. Nursing and physician staff worked without complaint or question. Ancillary staff multi-tasked without being asked. COnsultants appeared and disappeared on cue. Patients received excellent care. The system operated, as it should. Life carried on in the emergency department, even in the midst of the death of one of our own.
When I finished the shift I had some down time to contemplate what had just occurred. I was overwhelmed by the death of my friend, the fatigue of the late hour, and the stress of having just completed a busy shift. I was also in awe of what the shift had been able to pull off which was nothing short of managing a mini-disaster despite personal grieving of our friend. I feel fortunate to be in a profession that places the needs of others before its own and thrives during moments of crisis. In its own small way, it was a fitting tribute to our fallen co-worker. I will miss her, as will our whole department. I had a glimpse of greatness last night because of her.
This story very well explains the dedication and drive that our ER staff has. This year's Race for the Cure tshirts will have this story on the back as a tribute to our co-worker and friend.
Kristi- we miss you everyday!!