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Inspiring Stories

Methodist Hospital Nurses Recognized for Care of Colleague’s Grandfather During COVID-19 Fight

Published: June 7, 2021

When Melinda Rawlings’ grandfather Cecil Miller was transferred to the Methodist Hospital Progressive Care Unit for COVID-19 treatment in November, Rawlings knew he was in the best hands. She took comfort in him being under the care of the 6 North team – a group that had been on the front lines of the pandemic since Methodist’s first COVID-19 case.

“Not one moment went by while my grandpa was on 6 North where I didn’t feel love and support coming from my coworkers,” said Melinda Rawlings, RN-BSN, MSNCB, a medical-surgical nurse at Methodist Hospital.  

On the day that would change everything, Rawlings’ friend Kristin Wise, BSN, RN, floated from the Critical Care Unit to 6 North to care for Cecil, known as “GG Pa” by his family. It’s the day Cecil would decline – the day Wise and the nurses of 6 North would help their fellow nurse say goodbye to her grandfather and ensure that Cecil felt the love of his family.

For their compassion and family-like support when Cecil’s own couldn’t be by his bedside, Rawlings nominated Wise for The DAISY Award and 6 North for The DAISY Team Award – national awards that recognize extraordinary care in nursing.

“It was a way to honor my grandpa and a way to honor Kristin and the 6 North team for what they do – because they can’t be repaid,” Rawlings said.

 

‘We Will Be You, Melinda’

In her nomination letter for Wise, Rawlings wrote:

“As a Methodist coworker and friend of Kristin’s, my heart jumped, and I was immediately calmed knowing that my grandpa was in her care. I’ve watched Kristin multiple times on the job go out of her way to do whatever she can for her patients. She has a heart of gold and has so much compassion for her patients. She sacrifices her heart and soul for everyone she touches.”

Critical Care Unit nurse Kristin Wise
Critical Care Unit nurse Kristin Wise

At no moment were Rawlings and her family more grateful than when Wise called them after Cecil took a turn for the worse during her shift. Sensing he may not recover, Wise insisted that the family say goodbye while Cecil was still awake.

“I told them they can’t wait to do this,” Wise said. “It’s best to do it now because you don’t know what the next hour or day is going to bring.”

Still, Wise said, “That was probably the hardest phone call that I’ve ever had to make.”

“Her initiating that – we could never forget her for that,” Rawlings said. “Because what if we didn’t say goodbye?”

Rawlings said Wise cried with her over video chat as she and her husband said goodbye to Cecil. Progressive Care service leader Heather Rolling, MSN, NE-BC, PCCN, was also in the room.

“Heather looked me in the eyes on the iPad and just said, ‘We will be you, Melinda. Don’t worry. We won’t let him die alone,’” Rawlings said. “Your coworkers doing that for you … you just can’t repay somebody for that.”

 

‘Heroes of Methodist Hospital’

The compassion and teamwork of the entire 6 North staff are why Rawlings didn’t stop at recognizing just Wise. In her nomination for The DAISY Team Award, she wrote:

Melinda Rawlings and Cecil Miller
Melinda Rawlings and Cecil Miller

“6 North, thank you for the countless hours of holding the hands of someone else’s loved ones, praying with them, FaceTiming with their families, being their familiar face, being a calming voice, being patient advocates, and for your kindness and all of the other countless things you do to dedicate your lives to saving our loved ones who are fighting COVID-19. You have so many guardian angels in heaven, like my grandfather, who appreciate every waking moment that you cared for them. From the loved ones of patients you cared for while fighting for their lives, thank you. You are truly the heroes of Methodist Hospital, and your invaluable service does not go unnoticed.”

Rolling was grateful for the acknowledgement for her team, especially since it came from a fellow nurse. She said it was an honor to care for a member of the Methodist family. And although the award recognized the whole nursing team, Rawlings and Rolling specifically praised the tender care of nurse coordinator Scott Nielsen, BSN, RN, who stayed hours after his shift to hold Cecil’s hand in case he passed. He was one of many who would hold Cecil’s hand, including No One Dies Alone volunteers – Methodist staff who sit with COVID-positive patients in their final hours.

The Meaning of Care is not always a medication or treatment,” Rolling said. “Sometimes it’s brushing teeth, giving a warm bath, or holding a hand.”

Nielsen said that the times he’s able to stay after his shift to hold a patient’s hand help him reconnect to why he became a nurse.

“All of us went into nursing because we care about people and want to improve their quality of life,” he said. “A lot of times during the shift, we’re busy with tasks and don’t have time for the more human side of nursing. During the pandemic, it’s been extremely difficult watching all these people decline, and their families can’t be with them. The emotional burden has been heavy.”

Rolling and Nielsen credit the unit’s teamwork in getting each other through this difficult year.

“When someone’s really struggling, people pull together to be a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen – to tell stories even in some of those darkest hours,” Nielsen said. “There’s always someone here to prop you up when you need it.”

 

‘I Can Never Repay Such Beautiful People’

Although he had transitioned to comfort care, Cecil wouldn’t pass for a couple more days – enough time for him to be transferred to Rawlings’ home unit and for her sister to be allowed by his side during his final hours.

Cecil Miller
Cecil "GG Pa" Miller

“It’s all God’s timing,” Rawlings said.

Rawlings’ reunions with her co-workers after her grandfather passed were emotional.

“The first time I saw Melinda in person, I just cried,” Wise said. “There was a lot of guilt that still resided in me because you always reflect back and wonder: ‘What did I miss? What could I have done better?’ We just gave each other a really big hug and cried.”

But Rawlings is a nurse. And she knows that Wise and the 6 North team fought for GG Pa.

“Until you’re in the Progressive or Critical Care Units, you just can’t fathom what happens on a day-to-day basis with these patients,” said Rawlings, who occasionally has floated to the COVID-19 units. “The staff is the family to these patients. They’re with them all day long. They communicate with their families. They’re holding patients’ hands and singing to them and doing all the therapeutic things to try to make their stay or end-of-life care better.”

She added: “I can never repay such beautiful people for doing such difficult and emotional things for my grandfather, my family and me.”

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About the Author

Cassandra Belek is a content strategist for Methodist Health System. She spent a decade working in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles and Chicago before joining the Methodist family and focusing on her love of writing and storytelling. 

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