ZANESVILLE — Director of pulmonary and critical care, Tisha Babcock, RN, has been with Genesis HealthCare System for 22 years.
"Nursing is a calling, I truly believe people are drawn into the field," Babcock said.
With nurses holding down the frontlines during the coronavirus, National Nurses Week means even more this year to the men and women dedicated to caring for people during the most critical times of their lives.
Wednesday kicked off National Nurses Week - the annual celebration that acknowledges the contributions nurses make to their communities. There are 1,099 nurses who work throughout the Genesis HealthCare System, filling roles from executive leadership to the frontlines.
At all levels, nurses routinely help develop and implement new procedures to provide the best care, according to Shon Bender, RN, chief nursing officer. They are the largest group of employees at Genesis.
"I am so grateful for our nurses at Genesis," Bender said. "They continually find ways to improve healthcare by incorporating technology while never losing their compassion for patients."
The national movement to celebrate nurses started in 1953. After numerous attempts and variations, in 1982, President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation announcing May 6 as National Recognition Day for Nurses. In 1990, the American Nurses Association expanded the celebration to a week-long event, from May 6 to May 12, to end on Florence Nightingale’s birthday, who is often considered the founder of modern nursing.
Like Nightingale, who in 1837 believed a calling from God prompted a strong desire to devote her life to the service of others, Babcock recalls when she answered the call.
"My grandfather became ill as I was going into college," Babcock said. "I was amazed by the dedication of the nurses and how they not only cared for my grandfather but showed so much compassion and care for the family. That impressed me."
Babcock began her career at Genesis as a nursing student and worked her way through the ranks, serving in various departments.
"You really have to have a true passion for helping others to be in this field," Babcock said. "When you are caring for a patient, it is their 911 - it's the moment they will remember the rest of their life."
Being a nurse, Babcock said, has helped her grow as a person and learn to think sharp while under pressure.
"It's challenging to keep that human connection," Babcock said. "You're very prayerful that your patient is going to make it through as you're doing everything you can to make that happen. It's very rewarding when it does. But, you're also challenged when you're sitting across from a spouse, parent or other loved one and have to tell them their loved one isn't going home."
Leaning very heavily on one another is how nurses cope with the daily stress of their job.
"We have a very strong support network at Genesis."
No one could have predicted that nurses would be celebrated in 2020 during a global pandemic but, Babcock said, they are constantly training for these situations.
"I don't see a sense of fear in our staff," Babcock said. "It's a new virus, but it's something we prepare for. We have been faced with new viruses before."
Babcock said she has been very impressed, albeit not surprised, by the way the team of nurses and staff at Genesis has handled the COVID-19 situation. Equally, she has been impress by the community support.
"It's been very inspiring to see how the community has stepped up — providing PPE for us, holding up signs of support outside the hospital, having food delivered. We all appreciate these efforts more than the community knows."