Click to Return
Back Back

Search WDH

Find a Provider


Search WDH


Appreciation video captures nurses’ experiences during COVID-19

An effort to thank their colleagues and community via video turned into a therapeutic experience for critical care nurses at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital.

The video project was originally an opportunity for the nurses to express appreciation for the help they received during the height of the COVID-19 crisis in 2020, but as the nurses continued to tell their stories they felt more empowered by sharing their experiences, according to Michele Clark BSN, RN, nurse manager of the hospital Critical Care Unit.

“We know that storytelling is very therapeutic and is actually used in PTSD and stress workshops,” Clark said.

In the six-minute video, the nurses discuss the most difficult points of caring for patients during the COVID-19 epidemic and how collaboration with their colleagues, and support from the community, kept them going, and ultimately made them stronger.

The emotional video starts with the nurses describing how the COVID-19 surge exploded almost overnight, as the hospital went from 1-2 patients to going well beyond the Critical Care Unit’s 11 bed capacity.

As serious cases of COVID-19 increased, so did the loses, including cases where multiple family members passed away.

"I’ve been a nurse for 10 years and it’s probably the worst time in my 10 years in nursing,” Laura Carlson, RN, said in the video.

“As soon as you sent that patient off to the morgue, because that was many of the outcomes, you just no longer take your gown off and you get a call ‘we got someone else coming from the floor,’” Linda White, RN, said in the video.

Dealing with that volume of loss was a new experience for most of the nurses, according to Clark.

“In the CCU we are used to losing some people because of the very nature of what we do, but in a community hospital we tend to save a lot of people as well. I would say the ratio to how many people you save to how many people you lose is always much greater on the save side,” Clark said. “During our surge we might have had one or two survivors between 36 to 40 really ill COVID patients. That was just something that no one really could describe or anticipate, or even talk about.”

Even during these dark times, there were moments of hope. Most notably how the hospital leadership and staff rallied behind the Critical Care Unit.

The closure of the hospital’s surgical and post-anesthesia care units meant more space and reinforcements ready to help the CCU nurses. In the video, many of the nurses’ faces light up when they talk about how their colleagues were willing to share their expertise, and equipment, with them.  

“(The nurses) were just so wanting to tell everybody what it meant for people to be displaced out of their own jobs and come here to help with these patients and families, and to even experience things that maybe they weren’t quite prepared to experience,” Clark said. “The selflessness, respect, work ethic, and caring and compassion for each other was just astounding from all these people across the organization.”

The video also captures lighter moments where the nurses used simple joys to get through their shifts, such as the Little Debbie emotional support locker full of sugary treats.

There were also generous donations from the community, including 500 Lindt chocolate truffles, pizza, food baskets, and other items.

Clark hopes the community watches the video and knows how grateful the hospital staff is for their support, but also gains a better understanding of how difficult it was to work through COVID-19 and why certain rules and restrictions had to be put in place.

“I think when the public sees this, they will connect that challenge and that angst and sadness but that resilience also, with why we had to close surgery,” Clark said. “I think people will have a better understand of that when they see this video.”

At the end of the video the nurses discuss how much they have learned from the experience and how they’re better prepared if it were to happen again.

Clark said that some nurses near retirement decided to move on after the experience, but it has brought the ones that remain closer together and fostered a greater sense of teamwork throughout the entire organization.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Sign up to receive occasional emails about Wentworth-Douglass news and events.