Cynthia O'Sullivan, PhD, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC
Dear Members and Friends of the Connecticut Coalition to Improve End-of-Life Care,
I hope you are all well and enjoying our brilliant fall foliage and crisp November weather. As we head into the winter, each and every one of you is on my mind, aware that your dedication to high-quality palliative and end-of-life care has even more significance in the wake of the COVID pandemic, anticipated to intensify over the winter months. Your compassionate and steadfast support of patients and families is truly a blessing to our community and a model for all. I am always amazed and humbled by your willingness to comfort and care those touched by life-limiting illness and suffering, with each act of kindness helping to lighten the burden of illness. Thank you for all you do.
This season’s newsletter is dedicated to our nurses. The American Nurses Association, in response to a declaration by the World Health Organization, has designated 2020 as “The Year of the Nurse.” According to the ANA, “…globally, the nursing profession marks a milestone in 2020, as the World Health Organization declares it the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife in honor of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale” (ANA, 2020). These organizations never anticipated the challenges that nurses (and other healthcare workers) would face during the pandemic. However, these unprecedented experiences have helped us focus our attention on nurses’ contributions, not only during times of crisis, but in their daily work to help patients and communities meet their healthcare needs.
The pandemic also provides an opportunity for us to support nurses’ health and well-being and acknowledge their efforts in providing end-of-life and palliative care. This newsletter presents a glimpse of some of the extraordinary ways nurses have reacted to the COVID crisis. It also sheds light on the impact that this type of work has had on the very people we rely on during such a crisis. I wish to thank several of CTEOL’s nursing colleagues, Alison Kris, Gina Petersen, and Eileen O’Shea (in addition to Suzanne Marmo, a licensed clinical social worker colleague), for their support of nursing staff working in long-term care facilities during the pandemic, presented on the following pages. Allison, is also highlighted in our Member Spotlight. Jess Sarkisian, an acute care nurse in one of CT’s area hospitals describes her experiences in working during the height of the pandemic. Their contributions are powerful and poignant reminders of the tireless work of those who support quality end-of-life and palliative care.
I hope you enjoy reading their stories.
Cynthia O’Sullivan, PhD, APRN, FNP-BC
President, CT Coalition to Improve End-of-Life Care