Local nurses show compassion for patients during pandemic

Mother, daughter team at Miami Valley South two of thousands of local nurses honored this week for their work.

Debbie Cope and Shelbi Adams have seen the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the community for the past two plus years.

They’ve held the hands of patients and talked to them about their worries going into surgery without a loved one near because of COVID-19 restrictions in area hospitals.

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Debbie Cope and her daughter Shelbi Adams are two of thousands of nurses being honored for National Nurses Week.

Debbie Cope and her daughter Shelbi Adams are two of thousands of nurses being honored for National Nurses Week.

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Debbie Cope and her daughter Shelbi Adams are two of thousands of nurses being honored for National Nurses Week.

They don’t deny it’s been tough, but the mother and daughter who work as nurses at Miami Valley Hospital South said they’ve been able to lean on each other during the pandemic.

“It’s great to have that support system at work. It’s not something that everyone gets to say, that they work with their mom or dad,” Adams said. “To have somebody there all the time to go to and ask questions or just vent to during the day; it’s nice.”

The mother and daughter are two of thousands of nurses at Premier Health, Kettering Health, Dayton Children’s Hospital and other area health systems being honored this week during National Nurses Week.

The health systems have held events this week to honor the nurses and to pamper them for their service to the community.

”Nurses are the heart of patient care,” said Christie Gray, chief nursing officer for Miami Valley Hospital. “They are the central point of care coordination. They give completely of themselves to care for others.”

There are 2.38 million registered nurses in the United States and more than 600,000 nurse anesthetists, midwives, nurse practitioners and licensed practical nurses. All have played an important part during the pandemic.

Even through the challenges brought on by the pandemic, on top of the typical demands of the job, both Cope and Adams say their passion for nursing has never been swayed.

“Some days were definitely harder than others, but I don’t think I’ve ever questioned what I’m doing or why I’m doing it,” Adams said. “I don’t know what else I would be doing with my career.”

Cope shares her daughter’s sentiments.

“I can’t imagine doing anything else,” she said.

Cope and Adams, both registered nurses, work within the hospital’s surgery department, with Cope serving in pre-surgery and Adams in post-operative services.

“She gets patients ready for surgery and then I wake them up after surgery,” Adams said.

Cope has worked as a registered nurse for 32 years. She said the COVID-19 pandemic helped shed light on just how critical nursing services are within a medical setting.

“We’ve expanded on how important we are to the whole process of caring for the patient,” she said. “Families weren’t able to be at the hospital and be their patient’s supporter or advocate, so as nurses, we had to step up to the plate and do that even more for our patients than we already did.”

Adams agreed, noting that while the pandemic brought with it a lot of uncertainty, nurses worked double time to provide a sense of security and comfort to patients.

“Being able to be there for patients when they’re most vulnerable is very rewarding, and we can see on patients’ faces how much they appreciate it, and they oftentimes tell you how much they appreciate it,” she said. “It’s good to be seen in that way.”

Adams said she always knew she wanted to be a nurse, especially after watching her mother work in the field through the years.

“She inspired me to be a nurse,” Adams said. “Being a nurse is a true art form you get to take on everyday. You get to show compassion for patients and be their advocate.”

For Cope, she said it was an experience as a child that prompted her to consider nursing as a career.

“I had appendectomy surgery when I was little and I had this nurse that was in her white starched uniform with her hair up in a bun and taking care of a very difficult child, I’m sure,” Cope said. “I thought she was amazing, and she cared for me for several days while I was in the hospital; just that dignity and compassion and respect that she showed me, I thought, ‘When I grow up, I want to be just like her.’”

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