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Nurse Puts Patients First

In her 11 years as a nurse, Ashley Holsman, RN, has cared for patients in labor and delivery, mother/baby and NICU. Now she’s caring for COVID-19 patients in the ICU.

As a women and children’s float nurse at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, Holsman has always appreciated the continuity of care her role provides by allowing her to support both expectant moms and newborn babies.

When the hospital asked who might be interested in cross-training in the ICU to support the fight against COVID-19, Holsman immediately stepped up.

“I work with a lot of people who are married and have families, and for me, it’s just me and my dog, so I said I will be the first to float if there’s a need because I won’t go home and contaminate anyone else,” she said.

Her day-to-day monitoring of labor contractions and infant oxygen levels has now changed to managing central lines and maintaining adults on ventilators. Holsman relishes the challenges each day brings and the opportunity to comfort patients.

“It’s been a combination of me wanting to face all this craziness head on and feel like I’m actually making a difference with what is happening,” she said. “I do what I do because I love my job and love taking care of people, and to help those who are very sick right now makes it that much more gratifying.”

One of the changes she’s still adjusting to is fighting the urge to rush into a patient room to provide care.

I do what I do because I love my job.
— Ashley Holsman, RN

“It’s so different that first and foremost, I have to have protection for myself,” Holsman said. “When a patient is in need, that initial impulse to run in and take over is something you can’t do. You have to take that extra step to put your PPE on, and that’s not what we’re used to as nurses. We are never putting ourselves first.”

Despite the unknowns that each day brings, Holsman is confident that teamwork and positive attitudes will get hospital staff through these demanding times.

“We have a lot of hands on deck and people willing to help and volunteer,” she said. “That teamwork mentality is across the board: nurse to nurse, doctor to nurse, nurse to patient, and that’s going to help these patient outcomes. You can’t have a negative outlook on this; it’s just not going to get you anywhere.”