When the floor became too chaotic found respite in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), which was located in a corner of the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit) where most of the group I came with were working (I was one of only 3 non-ICU people in our group).
After the first night I realized they were super short in the ICU. They had 8 PICU patients and 8 NICU babies with only 3 nurses (at home one nurse takes care of 2 ICU patients max) and though they did wonderfully, they really needed an extra set of hands for the babies. I happily volunteered. Some nights I worked both the floor and NICU, other nights I did only NICU.
Ireally enjoyed working with the babies – not only because they were tiny and adorable but because I felt like I was doing something useful. They needed to be fed and I could feed them. They needed diaper changes, and I could do that (even if it was with a size 3 – have you ever tried putting a size 3 diaper on a 4 pound baby?!?).
One benefit of working with the NICU babies was watching my coworkers care for the PICU patients. I have never been more impressed and proud to be a nurse. I worked mostly with Pam, Nancy (to the right with one of our fabulous interpreters) and Joanne. Let me tell you, they worked hard. They used every skill they had to make the limited resources they had (one suction machine for 3 vented kids – what!) go so far. They knew exactly what to do in the scariest situations and did so calmly, competently and compassionately. I was so impressed and honored to be a part of the group that cared for these kiddos so well.
On the day we arrived, during our orientation, it was said that if it were not for what we were doing, these people would die. It was said to comfort us and encourage us to keep going despite frustrations that come with knowing a simple procedure or medication so widely available in the US was unavailable. Lots of kids died. I must admit that I felt so protected. The Lord knew my heart and protected me from situation in which I’d have to be a part of hard decisions like choosing to stop treatment and determining at which point continuing care became more harmful than good.