In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

January 12, 2021

Wrapping COVID-19 patients in holiday warmth during a challenging year

By In the Loop

Staff at Domitilla 6B at the Saint Marys Campus of Mayo Clinic Hospital — Rochester, recognized that this was an unusually difficult time for hospitalized patients and wanted to do something special to lift their spirits.


Hospital stays are difficult at any time of the year, but for patients in the hospital during the holidays in the midst of a pandemic, being away from family and not being able to have visitors because of COVID-19 restrictions can be extremely difficult.

Staff in Domitilla 6B, a Medical Thoracic unit at the Saint Marys Campus of Mayo Clinic Hospital — Rochester, recognized that this was an unusually difficult time for their patients and wanted to do something special to lift their spirits.

With Kimberly Brake, a nurse manager on the floor, leading the way, staff on the unit created cards for each patient that they signed and hand-delivered with a bag of Hershey Hugs.  

The cards read: "Happy holidays. We recognize that it's difficult to be in the hospital during the holidays, especially now with not being able to have your family & friends by your side. We hope these 'hugs' bring you some holiday cheer and you can soon hug your loved ones. We send you our best wishes for a joyful holiday season & a happy and healthy new year."

Spreading holiday cheer among patients is one of the ways staff in the Medical Thoracic unit were able to keep their own spirits up during a year that was taxing for them, as well, Brake says. The unit was the first to be converted to a COVID-19 unit last March. Since then, staff on the unit have cared for more than 1,000 patients with COVID-19. Beyond caring for the patients' physical health, staff have also been providing emotional support for these patients, who often feel isolated and alone.

"In a year like no other, the nurses from Domitilla 6B have fully represented the three shields that Mayo Clinic principles are based on: Patient Care, Education, and Research," says Eva Carmona Porquera, M.D., Ph.D., a consultant in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine.  

"This team of nurses and providers has shown that together we can move through difficult times, stay focused, motivated, and continue to provide excellent care to our patients resulting in overall favorable outcomes."

Eva Carmona Porquera, M.D., Ph.D.

That's particularly impressive for a tem providing uninterrupted care to patients with COVID-19 and adjusting to a work environment that has changed nearly every day.

"This team has shown endurance, resiliency and adjustability to a fluid and almost daily changing working environment," Dr. Carmona Porquera says. "Their hard work and compassionate care have been recognized by patients' comments and appraisals. This group has shown what teamwork is about, not just among themselves but also by teaching and spreading best COVID-19 practices and safety to other groups and new COVID-19 units."

As new knowledge about COVID-19 became available, the team was on the forefront of research and innovation, stepping up to try new protocols and safely apply new therapies to improve patient care and reduce ICU admissions.

"This team of nurses and providers has shown that together we can move through difficult times, stay focused, motivated, and continue to provide excellent care to our patients resulting in overall favorable outcomes," Dr. Carmona Porquera says.

When COVID-19 surged and other units transitioned to care for patients with COVID-19, the staff in Domitilla 6B became a resource for them, answering questions and having staff from other units shadow them to learn from them.

"The staff and multidisciplinary teams who work on Domitilla 6B are heroes and role models," says Vincent Pureza, M.D., Ph.D., a consultant in Hospital Internal Medicine. "They were some of the first to brave the uncertainty of this new disease, and they persevere today. Through their dedication, sacrifice, and innovation they continue to help define and optimize the way we treat and care for patients with COVID-19. They continue to help teach and encourage others to do the same. We are all in a better place because of them."

Tags: Domitilla 6B, Dr. Eva Carmona Porquera, Dr. Vincent Pureza, Employee Stories, Kimberly Brake

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