College of Coastal Georgia News
Contributed Report in The Brunswick News Aug 22, 2020
Grace Under Fire
Haley Allen, R.N., BSN, grew up in the emergency room (ER). When her police officer father worked nights, Haley accompanied her mother, an ER nurse, to work. "I knew then that I wanted to help people. To this day, the ER is my home. I feel comfortable there," Allen says.
After attending the College of Coastal Georgia and Georgia Southern University, the ink was barely dry on Allen's nursing diploma when she joined the Emergency Care Center (ECC) at Southeast Georgia Health System's Brunswick Campus. Ten years later, she moved to the perioperative area, preparing patients for surgery and caring for them in recovery.
As the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients increased on the Brunswick Campus, Allen sprang into action, working wherever she was needed. She was one of the first to sign up to work in the ECC when elective surgeries were cancelled and staff were asked to work in other departments. During the last six months, Allen has provided care to ECC patients, COVID-19 patients in the Intensive Care Unit and, most recently, returned to patient care in surgical services. "I have no trouble taking care of the sickest patients. I love bedside care."
Repertoire and Respect
As challenging as it is to work on the frontlines, the bond between health care workers remains strong. "I have a repertoire with my co-workers. We respect and trust each other and know we're doing the right thing for our patients," Allen says.
Trust is especially important in the ECC. "Haley is always willing to go above and beyond to lend a helping hand. You can count on her to back you up in critical situations," says Gina Copeland, R.N., director of the Brunswick Campus Emergency Care Center.
If providing patient care was challenging before COVID-19, it's even more so now. Reflecting on some of the "pivotal moments" she has experienced throughout her nursing career, Allen says it's all worthwhile. "I've cared for people who lost a child and went on to have another child later who they named after me."
The pandemic requires nurses to dig deeper into their reserves of energy, time and concern. Whether that means making yourself understood while wearing a mask or explaining the no-visitor policy, Allen remains focused on patients, despite the extra obstacles. "Haley treats each patient as if they were her own family. She is compassionate, friendly and always smiling. She is an exemplary model of a health care hero!" Copeland says.
As a bedside nurse, Allen must possess equal parts compassion and courage.
"I know I'm where I'm supposed to be when a patient thanks me or a co-worker says, 'Thank God you're here.'"
Those moments sustain her as she hurries through the hospital to help wherever she is needed. Juggling her job and being a single mother to two children is not easy, but she manages with her parents' help and her children's cooperation. "My kids don't argue about wearing a mask and they know they won't see me when I get home until I've showered and changed clothes," Allen says.
From her perspective on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis, Allen believes that kindness, along with masks, social distancing and hygiene, will get us through the pandemic.
"We're all in this together. Right now, we need to show each other a lot of grace."
Grace under fire defines Haley Allen, even if she does not see herself through that lens. "I don't see myself as a hero. This has always been my job and always will be. You'll always have someone to take care of you."
In times like these, those are just the heroic words we need to hear.
To support your community hospital during the COVID-19 crisis, please consider donating to the Southeast Georgia Health System Foundation. To learn more, call 912-466-3360.
Today's Frontline Heroes is sponsored by Southeast Georgia Health System. Visit their website at sghs.org.