Macy Wade went into nursing because she wanted to make sure patients were treated like she’d treat a member of her own family.
It’s a philosophy she puts into action every day as a leader in our COVID-19 unit, where she oversees nurses taking care of hospitalized patients.
Wade said she’s been amazed and inspired by Regional One Health’s response to the pandemic, and it leaves her confident as her team continues to treat patients.
When Regional One Health Nursing Director Macy Wade, MSN, RN, NEA-BC moved to Memphis five years ago to be closer to family, her goal was to continue her nursing career at a hospital where she’d feel comfortable sending her loved ones for care.
Since then, “My grandfather has been a patient at Regional One Health, and so have I,” Wade said. “I wouldn’t send my family anywhere else. The compassion and level of care are second-to-none. It’s a special place.”
The philosophy that every patient should be treated like family drove Wade from an early age. During college, her sights were set on law school until she began working in a psychiatric hospital. “I had no inclination I wanted to go into health care, but after working with those patients and seeing what real struggles looked like, I found my calling,” she said.
“I treated our patients like I would want my own family treated, and in doing so, they changed me far more than I ever helped them,” she said.
She ultimately earned a master’s in nursing, and she hasn’t looked back.
Now, after several months on the frontlines of a pandemic as the head of Regional One Health’s COVID-19 nursing team, Wade is more certain than ever she’s right where she needs to be. “I am grateful to be part of it, because we have a chance to do right by our patients. They’re scared, and we recognize that. By putting ourselves in their shoes, we know we’ll do what’s right.”
That isn’t to say it has been easy.
At incident command’s first meeting about the logistics of the COVID-19 unit, they developed a list of tasks that needed to be accomplished right away.
It included 115 items.
“We had to come at this from all angles and all at once,” Wade explained. “We had to plan how to effectively and appropriately care for these patients.”
Determining proper treatment was just part of it. With a highly contagious virus as their foe, the team also had to find a way to care for patients while keeping themselves and others safe.
They decided to centralize COVID-19 care in one part of the hospital – ideally next to the ICU. “When these patients start getting sicker, it happens quickly,” Wade said. “We wanted them where they could get a quick response. And, from an exposure standpoint, we wanted them all isolated on one floor.”
It would require relocating the hospital’s entire 43-bed trauma acute care service. Wade met with trauma surgeon Peter Fischer, MD who immediately pledged his support.
“He asked, ‘When are we going to do this?’ and I said, ‘Tomorrow,’” Wade laughed. “The last time we moved units, it took two years. This time, from the time of approval to the time every patient was where they needed to be, it was less than 24 hours.”
That can-do spirit has been the norm.
“With the collaborative efforts of so many people, such as Dr. Amber Thacker, Dr. Scott Sinclair, Dr. Barbara Menzies, Scott Anderst and Lori Minor, we were able to make this cohort unit happen quickly and continue to run it efficiently today,” she said.
From intensive cleaning of facilities and equipment used for COVID-19 patients to limiting who enters the unit for food and medication delivery to creating a scrub service so staff doesn’t have to take dirty uniforms home, everyone is eager to help.
Most poignant of all, Wade said, is there was never a moment she feared she wouldn’t have enough medical staff willing to care for patients: “We had more people volunteer to work in this unit than we had need. That makes you very proud of your colleagues and the place you work.”
Wade knows the team made personal sacrifices to be there, and she knows that isn’t easy – because she too went several weeks without seeing her parents or her kids, ages 8 and 11. “We stayed connected, but it was a lot of phone calls,” she said. “I’m finally at the point where I will hug my kids – but not until after I’ve showered! I do not want to be the reason someone gets ill because I want to see them. You can’t be selfish – but sometimes you just want a hug.”
Still, there have been ample rewards: Seeing patients of all ages recover and leave the hospital. Watching the COVID-19 team grow in confidence and become a resource for other providers. Cementing bonds with colleagues who share her commitment to helping others.
For Wade, it brings why she became a nurse full circle. A decision she made based on what she would want for her own loved ones brought her to a place that she says is the first hospital she’d recommend to a family or friend in need.
It’s a message she hopes brings comfort as Memphians continue to deal with COVID-19.
“I’ve watched this team care for the COVID-19 population and move from fear and uncertainty to this confident group of incredible providers, nurses, respiratory therapists and axillary staff,” she said. “It has made me so proud to work for Regional One Health.”
“When you walk into the unit, you see right away that the morale and spirit are good. There’s hope and there’s optimism. We can’t say we’re at the end of it, but this is not going to defeat us.”