“In May, I traveled with four CRNA colleagues from Memphis to spend a month working at Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, NJ, which was 20 minutes from Central Park. Barnabas contained only COVID patients, and the staff was exhausted. I decided to go because I wanted to show what CRNAs can do. We can wear many hats, and we transition well. I also wanted to learn. This was a completely new experience, and we felt that we could gain knowledge that we could bring back to Memphis.
“The head of the department at Barnabas was pretty familiar with what CRNAs could do. Even still, when they saw everything that we were capable of, they took full advantage to get the most out of us. We really served as hospitalists—we managed the ventilators, ordered the meds, trained the ICU and OR nurses how to titrate vasoactive drugs, drips, etc. We weren’t just managing patients, we were teaching other providers. And they were quick studies.
“I found the work very rewording, yet very sad. We were told many patients would die, and they did. Watching people dying alone was the most difficult part, and it was really helpful being there with my Memphis colleagues. We were a great support system for each other. Everyone copes with death differently.
“The Barnabas staff loved the ‘Memphis 5’ and did not want to let us go. I haven’t done this type of thing in the past—uproot, reinvent myself and fill gaps where needed—and I feel like my colleagues and I definitely proved ourselves.”