Nurses at Bradley Hospital come together for struggling kids

Nurses at Bradley Hospital are dealing with mounting challenges as they work to help their young patients, with difficult journeys to health, now complicated by the coronavirus.

Lauren Sullivan is the Assistant Clinical Nurse Manager in the Adolescent Unit at Bradley Hospital. Sullivan said it’s been difficult for these kids who are having a rough time with the increased safety restrictions and not being able to see their family.

“I’ve noticed a lot more anxiety as the kids don’t understand it,” Sullivan said.

The adolescent unit has patients ranging in age from 11 to 18 years old. Many depend on non-verbal cues, which can be difficult when the ones caring for them have to wear masks, and also keep a distance.

“I like to think of psych as emotionally and touchy feely so we want to help out the kids and we are wearing a mask so it’s hard with the kids,” Sullivan said. “They’re looking at your body positioning are they smiling, are they happy?”

Restrictions also mean no visitations right now. While kids are able to zoom and call their loved ones, nurses including Sullivan have turned into family.

“We are the face they see, 7 days a week, 24 hours,” Sullivan said. “We are the person they turn to ask questions and help them for the day.”

Bradley Hospital is also seeing a shortage of staff with many out sick. Sullivan herself comes in even on her weekends off to make sure her staff is spending time with their families.

She says there is one thing that keeps her going, and that’s the kids.

“These kids are so resilient, some of their backgrounds are horrific and the way they pull through is amazing,” Sullivan said. “They’re the reason I come back to work.”

Because many of the kids have trouble understanding what’s going on, Sullivan said they have worked to create kid friendly videos explaining what COVID-19 is and how to keep themselves safe.


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