The following letter was written by Michelle deCastro, RN, BSN, ATCN, a nurse in the Trauma Surgical Intensive Care Unit (TSICU). It has been edited for clarity and length.

I’d like highlight the work of TSICU nurses Liz Zehren, RN, Maddie Parikh, RN, and Flerida Boter, RN; Cupp 3 East nurses Cindy Lehman, RN, and Maureen Kirby, RN; and Donna McClure, RN, CHPN, of Penn Medicine Hospice.

A couple that had been married for more than 60 years — “M” and “J” — were recently patients at PPMC. M experienced a traumatic fall and suffered an ischemic stroke, while J was recovering after a below-knee amputation. When the family made the difficult decision to transition M to comfort care, our nurses moved J to M’s room. The TSICU nurses cared for M, while the 3 East nurses cared for J, coming to the shared room with J’s meals and medications. Though M was nonverbal, whenever J spoke, M was engaged with every word. They held hands, and J prayed and FaceTimed their six children. 

I shared the situation with Donna and explained how all the nurses were working together to care for both patients so they weren’t separated. The Social Work/Care Management team kindly coordinated their transfer at the same time — M to Penn Medicine Hospice, and J to acute rehab — and I asked if it would be possible for them to share a room again. Though Donna was doubtful given the COVID-19 visitation policies, I asked if we could advocate for M and J given this unique situation.

Around 45 minutes before the couple’s pick-up time, Donna called and said, “Michelle, you asked for a miracle...” J was approved to visit M for an hour every day. When I shared the news, J was overcome. J kissed M sweetly and thanked us for helping them make the most of the time they had left together.

I am so grateful for the collaborative efforts of every team member. Their professionalism, excellence in fostering the Penn Medicine Experience, and compassionate care for M and J should not go unnoticed.

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