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Nurses develop a special bond with COVID-19 patients

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MADISON (WKOW) -- When a loved one is in the hospital, human contact can be the best medicine.

However, many hospital patients suffering from COVID-19 aren't allowed to have their family or friends by their side.

Nurses are serving up a double dose of medicine; not only are they treating their patients, but they're also acting as their support system during a very difficult time.

"Nurses have had to wear a lot of different hats in the process," said Christina Brahos, a registered nurse with UW Health. "We have moved from not only just the traditional caregiver role…but are sort of the primary support person. It's been pretty amazing to serve in that role."

Brahos admits the fight against COVID-19 is "very stressful and very busy", especially with no family of her own to head home to.

"It's really hard not being able to hug someone or sit down and have a face-to-face conversation," said Brahos, whose family lives out-of-state.

But for every nurse, like Brahos, their dedication and generosity aren't going noticed. From a drive-by salute involving the Madison Fire Department to neighbors in Middleton cheering in the streets, many people throughout southern Wisconsin are finding ways to say "Thank You."

One of those people is Dan Neuman, who spent several weeks in the ICU battling COVID-19 at Unitypoint Health-Meriter Hospital in Madison.

"I can't thank them [the hospital team] enough," said Neuman, who was unable to have his wife by his side as he fought for his life. "They were the best connection and the closest connection that I had while I was in the hospital…I just couldn't believe how dedicated and fearless they were."

Andrea Horne, a registered nurse who works in the ICU at Unitypoint Health-Meriter Hospital, was one of the nurses who took care of Neuman.

"He would write us letters on a clipboard," Horne described the level of communication she had with Neuman during his stay in the ICU. "He said 'thank you', it was very sweet."

Horne continues to look after COVID-19 patients as well as others who come in the ICU for other reasons.

"I think it's been humbling and it's been an honor to be with them," she said.

Horne says watching her patients recover and head out the hospital doors, healthy and happy, is what makes the difficult fight worth it.

"It's been amazing to see all of our work, see people graduate and get better, and go home," said Horne. "It's an awesome feeling to see people leave with a smile."

Both Brahos and Horne say they're also very grateful for each sign or act of gratitude by the community.

"Driving into work and seeing signs that say 'thank you' or gifts from the community is great," said Brahos.

"We know it's hard. We know that it's not fun and that things are not normal. But we do appreciate the sacrifices that everyone is making right now."

Nick Buffo

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