Nurses feel support during appreciation week, pandemic

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Spectrum Health began celebrating National Nurses Week with its staff on Wednesday.

National Nurses Week runs through May 12. Spectrum will be providing free meals and themed parties for its nursing staff daily. 

Spectrum nurse manager Patti DeLine says she couldn’t have imagined picking a different career. 

“I didn’t know any nurses. I didn’t have any in my family, so it was a whole new profession to us and it was the right fit,” DeLine said. 

DeLine has been working as a nurse for 17 years. She says working through the pandemic has been one of the hardest things she’s done over the course of her career. 

“When we started seeing a pick up of cases, we started preparing immediately and got thrown into a lot of discussions on planning, a lot of meetings discussing how we would do things,” DeLine added.

The nurses have spent the last several weeks working longer hours and getting fewer days off. They say if it means saving a life, it’s worth it.

“This is something that we decided to do. We decided to help people. This just reaffirms that in so many other ways,” said intensive care unit charge nurse Katey Hockstra.

Hockstra has been a nurse for 5 years. She says throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ve seen an outpouring of support from coworkers  and the community.

“There have been so many people that have sent letters, provided meals, provided coffee — just all sorts of things, which of course we never expect those things, but when it happens, it just makes you take a step back and realize people realize everything that we’re going through,” Hockstra said.

They say the pandemic has really revealed how critical essential workers are to the community.

“Thinking five, ten years from now, we’ll be able to say ‘wow look at what we did. Look at how we stepped up. Look what we did for our community. We were really brave and that’s something we can be proud of,’” DeLine said.

Next week marks the 200th birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. To wrap up the appreciation week, Spectrum will celebrate Nightingale and its nurses with a luminary lighting ceremony on May 12 at 9 p.m.