National Nursing Week gives us a platform to share nurses’ stories about how “we answer the call” to create a better understanding of the many roles nurses play in a health-care journey and the incredible dedication and expertise they bring to their work. The #WeAnswerTheCall Member Series highlights just a few of the many stories of the impact our nurses make.
“Last Christmas I answered an unforgettable call.”
After a Code White (violent patient) on December 23 resulted in a need to switch staff on another floor at the long-term care facility where Gretchen Marasigan-Esteva worked, she agreed to transfer for Christmas Day.
“I thought, ok, I’ll be a good nurse and help out so that everyone can have a nice Christmas,” said Gretchen. “I’m always excited to go to work and was especially excited that day as it was my last days before I would be on vacation.”
At 9:30 pm, Gretchen was alone at the nursing station. She was completing a patient chart, documenting what had happened during her shift. As she closed the file and looked up, she saw a resident running past. He came rushing inside the nurses’ desk, with long, orange-handled scissors raised in his hand.
“I stood up. He was aiming for my face and neck area, which I was able to cover with my arm. I was pushed back on the chair as he tried to stab me so many times. I was fighting so hard. I remember holding his hand preventing him from stabbing me. The chair tilted and I ended up on the floor under the nurses’ desk. I was screaming, but no one could hear me because they were in the patient rooms.”
A nurse on break heard Gretchen’s screams and came to see what was going on. She was able to grab the back of the resident’s jacket and pull him off balance, enough that Gretchen could crawl away.
“I ran and locked myself in the bathroom. He chased after me, using the medical treatment cart to bang the bathroom door. I didn’t know I had been stabbed until I saw the blood in the sink. I used my phone to call the other unit for help. I was thinking that if I called 911 there will be so many questions. That was the longest 10, 15 minutes of my life.”
Gretchen has been off work since the incident. In her own words, she is doing the hard work, going into each aspect – physical, emotional, mental, spiritual to explore and reflect. She says it feels like she’s building herself up again.
“I still want to be a nurse, I really love what I do and how I do it,” she said. “Sharing my story, I’m hoping that people will see the value of a nurse and how vulnerable we are at the workplace. We are more than heroes. We are human first, nurse second.”
Gretchen’s nursing journey has been one of dedication and resilience. She is an internationally educated nurse from the Philippines. The process to become a nurse in Manitoba took six years and after completing a licensed practical nurse bridging program, it was difficult to find a job with the many changes occurring at the peak of the health system transformation.#News