12-Year-Old Norwalk Girl Writes Thank You Card for Nurse
DMACC Adjunct Nursing Instructor puts in 19 consecutive 12-Hour days battling COVID-19 in New York City
As a nurse, Nicole Nichols knew whe had to respond, no matter the fear or risk, to care for those suffering from the pandemic
Beautiful card from a Norwalk girl touched Nichols' on a day when it was really needed
Nicole Nichols of St. Charles is a nurse and a DMACC Adjunct Nursing
Instructor. She is celebrating National Nurses Week, May 6-12, by
recovering from a grueling three-week stint in a “hotspot" of the
COVID-19 virus in this country. Nichols has been putting in 12-hour
shifts at New York City's Roosevelt Island Medical Center (RIMC) set up
in the Coler Rehabilitation Facility.
In less stressful times, Dr.
Nichols would be teaching clinical rotations at the DMACC Urban, Ankeny
or Boone Campus. Now, she's wrapping up 19 consecutive days of seeing
the worst COVID-19 cases in America.
Dr. Nichols became a Licensed
Practical Nurse in 2006 and a Registered Nurse in 2007. She received a
BSN in 2017, a Master's in Nursing Education in 2018 and her Educational
Doctorate degree in Nursing Education Specialization with a
concentration in online curriculum design/development in March of 2020.
In addition, she is working on a dissertation on disaster preparedness
from nursing student's perspective.
“I took an oath in 2006 to
be a servant to others, to provide care to those in need without
hesitation or question," Dr. Nichols said. “The passion to care for
others has always been a part of me. When the COVID-19 numbers began to
overwhelm the health care system, the fire in my gut ignited. I knew
then I needed to respond, no matter the fear or risk. I answered the
call because I uphold the oath every day of my life."
said she cares for patients and acts as a charge nurse in a unit that
started with nothing and no one, completely bare of supplies and staff.
“The 31-bed unit came together in 16 hours and we haven't looked back," Dr. Nichols said.
said he responsibilities include reviewing charts, looking at potential
admissions/discharges, reviewing lab results, overseeing staffing
needs, and maintaining the flow and morale of the staff and patients.
hour shifts are rough," Dr. Nichols said. “It makes no difference if
these are your normal shift hours or not. Even the seasoned 12-hour
nurses are run down. When I complete by 21-day assignment, I will have
worked 19 12-hour shifts back-to-back with no breaks."
She admits decontamination adds about an another hour to every day once she gets home from a shift.
Nichols said a typical day begins at 5 a.m. when she has a cup of
coffee. She pulls her uniform out of the closet and removes the garbage
bag covering from the hanger. She said this is done to protect the clean
uniforms from the COVID exposed ones. She dresses in scrubs and a
surgical cap, grabs her badge, a water bottle and her mask which she
wears for bus travel. She said the bus leaves the hotel around 6:20 a.m.
every day and more than 50 nurses head to Roosevelt Island for a
At the facility, she said everyone has their
temperature taken and completes a COVID survey. By around 7:15 a.m., she
is at her unit applying an N95 mask with a secondary mask covering her
face. She said she completes her rounds of morning vital signs,
medications and charting by 9 a.m. so she is prepared for admissions or
discharges and code calls.
She said breakfast and lunch are provided.
“We have a working lunch and have been gifted amazing local cuisine for lunches since opening our unit," Dr. Nichols said.
said when the night shift arrives around 7:15 p.m., the new nursing
crew is updated and the others load the bus for the ride home. And the
“Once home, we have an ultraviolet
light we stand on prior to entering the main building and elevators,"
Dr. Nichols said. “Upon arriving to my room, I lose the shoes and enter
into my makeshift decontamination station. I put on gloves and spray
down the floor and my shoes with rubbing alcohol and medical grade
disinfectants. These are quickly bagged and put into the bottom of the
closet. All clothing from the day goes into a plastic bag, is sprayed
and that bag is placed in a garbage bag."
She said she then takes a shower in nearly scalding water that is necessary to wash away the day and the disease.
between 8 and 9 p.m., she orders food for supper, checks her students
work/emails, works on her dissertation, calls home, picks up her mail
and goes to bed between 11 p.m. and midnight, only to start all over in
Dr. Nichols said the amount of support she is receiving is never ending.
amount of thanks, prayers and well wishes from social media, text
messages, cards and care packages that were unexpected are astounding,"
Dr. Nichols said. “It is truly humbling to be here doing what I love and
having support from so many people, mostly strangers?"
Nichols said on one of her most difficult days, she returned to the
hotel and found that someone had slipped a beautiful card under her
door. The card and note thanking her for what she was doing was written
by 12-year-old Katie Liedtke of Norwalk.
In a Facebook message, Dr. Nichols responded:
I needed these words today more than any day to this point. You are an
incredibly selfless child with an honorable heart. Know this card will
be at my bedside table every day that I am here and will then be placed
in a keepsake box of my treasures from this unexplainably difficult time
in my life and career. You my darling are bound for great things!
said she was looking for a service project for a confirmation class and
leadership class at school, and wanted to send a card and thank you
letter to a first responder or essential worker in all 50 states. She
said she's using Facebook to find the medical professionals.
wanted to spread joy and kindness in this hard time," Liedtke said. “It
makes me feel like I am helping someone to make them feel good so they
can help someone else that is in need."
As for Nichols, another highlight of her stint in New York was seeing a person who she treated on day one be discharged.
“When the day came to discharge, the entire floor lined up to cheer the patient out of the hospital," Dr. Nichols said.
the long stressful hours, no breaks, living away from home and
undergoing a lengthy decontamination every night, Dr. Nichols was asked
if she would do it again.
“In a heartbeat!" Dr. Nichols said.
“Disaster medicine cannot be taught in school, only in the field, and
these lessons are invaluable."
As we celebrate National Nurses
Week, May 6-12, we are reminded that May 12 is the anniversary of
the birth of Florence Nightingale, who is considered the founder of
modern nursing at the time of the Crimean War.
Dr. Nichols said
she hopes to use her experience in New York City to help student nurses
prepare for major emergencies when she is doing her rotations on the
cardiac and general medical-surgical floors as an Adjunct Nursing
Instructor at DMACC's Urban, Ankeny or Boone campuses.