We all know nursing is a calling. But for Galen Alumni Morgan Glynn, it also came to mean calling… and calling, and calling…45 minutes’ worth of redialing the Krucial Staffing Health hotline to sign up for deployment as an ICU nurse in New York City at the height of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Morgan – who has an ICU background and was working with Coronavirus patients at Baptist Health marveled a little when she remembered the Krucial signup process, and was amazed at the number of nurses who wanted to sign up.
But get through, and get signed up, Morgan did. Two days later, she found herself at the Louisville airport with bags, ticket, and laptop (so she could continue her Online RN to BSN coursework), saying goodbye to her family.
“Once I got through, they basically told me I had 48 hours to deploy to New York. From there, she had just a few details, including the name of a hotel in New York City. “I was definitely nervous. I didn’t know what to think; I didn’t know what to do; how it was going to go, or anything!”
Morgan comes from a nursing family. Born in Louisville and raised in Southern Indiana, she watched her mother, Sherri Wilson, work in healthcare since she was a small girl. Sherri also graduated from Galen, as did Morgan’s sister-in-law, Karen Buckley.
Karen was also on the New York assignment, but was staying in a different hotel and deployed at a different hospital. In fact, so many nurses came into town that nurses from Krucial Staffing alone filled as many as six hotels. A friend of Morgan’s was there, too, but again, at a different hotel and a different hospital. “So basically, I didn’t know a single person there,” she said.
After an orientation and a three-day on-call period, Morgan received her assignment: the night shift at a hospital in Brooklyn. “April 11th, that was my first day. From there, we did 21 days, with two days off in those 21 days.”
We asked Morgan to describe her first day. “It was hectic. The staffing company staffed an entire unit of ICU Coronavirus. So it was…it was different. Okay, actually, it was chaos!” she laughs. “We were all with the same recruiting company, but we didn’t know each other. We were from all over the country. We got onto a bus, went to the hospital, got off the bus, and met our unit leader.”
“They had transformed a recovery unit into a makeshift ICU. I think there were five of us there. They gave us our PPE … gowns, N95 masks, shoe covers, hair covers, gloves, face shields, everything. We put it on … at first it took us like, 20 to 25 minutes to get it all on in the right order so we wouldn’t contaminate it taking it off, but as the days went on we got quicker.”
“So we get our PPE on, and we go into the unit, and there’s not one floor nurse to be found. It was kind of scary. There was a charge nurse, and some doctors, but the day shift had already left to catch their bus.”
“We lined up, we got our patients–we each had as many as four patients, which is on the high side for an ICU,–and at that point it was ‘Fend for yourself!’
“It was a big ‘seek and find,’ that’s all I can describe it as. If you needed some tape, you had to look for it in every single drawer. If you just needed a bag of saline to hang, you just had to go around the whole unit and look for it. Nobody knew. So you know, things took a lot longer to do.”
“But, I think as time went on we were a great unit. We all meshed pretty well, teamwork-wise. We made sure the patients were safe– that was our first priority. And then just teamwork really helped us get through our shifts.”
“Even though it was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before–they haven’t made a clinical for that yet!–overall, it was a good experience.”
Work nights, school days
You’d think that nights on a Coronavirus ICU ward would be enough for anyone. But not for Morgan. When she wasn’t working or sleeping, she was doing her Online RN to BSN coursework.
“The first couple of weeks I’d do as much as I could. I preplanned my papers, I’d write out my discussions for that week and the next week. I wanted to do just as much as I could early, in case I got tired in the end. That way, I’d almost have things ready.”
“I’d get home at 10, go to bed around 11. Then I’d wake up at 3:30, do homework until 5:30, and catch the bus at 6:45. I did a little every day; the sleeping was very light. But the coursework helped keep the boredom away.”
This schedule didn’t leave much time for anything else, though she did go over to the Brooklyn Bridge on a break. She also walked around Times Square on “food runs.”
Morgan says those little trips really made an impact. “Our hotel was on Times Square, so I saw it every day. It was really, really eerie when I first got there. I would go outside to grab food or whatever, and I would literally be the only person out there–he one, single person. It was weird, because I’d been to New York before, and there were people shoulder-to-shoulder. But not this time…not one person outside, except myself. “
Morgan came home in early June, just in time for graduation. Now she’s settling back into her life with her husband and two dogs, and is looking forward to traveling as soon as she can. Among other things, she’ll be planning a trip with her “new best friend,” another nurse she met during her time in New York.
And would she do it again?
“Yes. I basically made up my mind when I left.. I wanted to stay longer. If worse comes to worst, like they need us back, or need our help again, I’ll go back in a heartbeat.”
Congratulations to you, Morgan. On your commitment and great work providing care to those who need it most, your safe return, and for continuing your nursing education through it all. We, your colleagues at Galen couldn’t be more proud.. With nurses like you on the front lines, things can only get better.