As a nurse, Sondra Kahler has been extremely thankful for the kindness shown to people like her.
But in her experience as a clinical support unit (CSU) nurse, primarily in the ICU, telemetry and post-partum units, she also sees firsthand how critical many behind-the-scenes people are at St. Luke’s.
“We get shout-outs a lot, and it means so much, but we wouldn’t be able to do our jobs without some people that aren’t as visible,” Kahler said.
Recently, Kahler delivered bags of goodies and thank-you cards to the Boise, Meridian and Nampa hospitals to nonclinical teams, including security, transport, distribution, environmental services, laboratory and food and nutrition services.
It was sparked by a conversation she had working in the ICU, when a transport employee was hand-delivering a medication to a patient. Sadly, the patient died just before their arrival.
“The color just left their face, they were distraught,” Kahler said. “I thought maybe they knew the person, but they didn’t. They said the morgue was full and didn’t know what to do about it. They’re seeing all of the death.”
Kahler comforted them, offering her home phone number if they needed to talk. She also heard the transport team member mention that a family member had callously wondered why the pandemic had taken such a toll, as they weren’t in a clinical role.
“It’s not fair to say ‘you’re not affected,’ everyone is,” Kahler said. “Security has dealt with more (combative patients/visitors), EVS has to clean the rooms after someone has died to bring in another patient. That all takes a toll. They’re being worked harder than they ever have.”
On a Facebook page many CSU team members belong to, Kahler put out a call for donations. Using that money, and some of her own, she picked up thank-you cards, along with chocolates, fruit snacks, chips and other snacks from Costco. In the CSU breakrooms, she put out the cards for staff to sign.
CSU leaders delivered the bags to Nampa and Meridian, while Kahler brought hers around the Boise campus during the night shift – as a night shift veteran, she knows how thankless it can be.
“Sondra continually shows selfless generosity and compassion to her patients and everyone around her,” said Kacey Martinez, assistant CSU manager.
For Kahler, it was a simple way to show that clinical staff supports and appreciates the nonclinical people who help them. She said the emotional response took her a little bit by surprise.
“It was kind of a ‘wow, somebody thought of us’ … everybody felt good, it was a good thing to see and I felt good,” Kahler said.
Dave Southorn works in the Communications and Marketing department at St. Luke's.