By Bill Figel
Ordinarily, nurses arrive in time to help comfort and heal. But these are no ordinary times.
“Through Our Eyes” is an enlightening collection of 40 firsthand narratives recounting the the early days of the COVID-19 written by nurses at Advocate Christ Medical Center. Among the nurses are Beverly/Morgan Park residents Kara Clarkin and Leah Gbur and Megan Cleary of Mount Greenwood.
On Sat., May 8, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Beverly Area Planning Association (BAPA), Bookies and Edna White Garden will co–host a book signing for “Through Our Eyes” in the hope is that the community will support the nurses–turned–authors on hand to hand-written dedications of the book.
Starting at Bookies, 10324 S. Western, and heading south, with stops at Western Avenue establishments and Edna White Community Garden as an option, the Advocate Christ Medical Center nurses will meet and greet and sign the books written through tears and determination when the pandemic first began a year ago. That the book-signing event occurs during Nurses Week is further cause for celebration for a job well done.
“Our nurses are so grateful to BAPA for inviting us to share our stories and to meet with the people of the community who are already donors,” said Lynn Hennessy, Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer at Advocate Christ Medical Center. “It’s a special honor to come to Beverly/Morgan Park, one of the communities that provided support a year ago when the book was just a concept. Some of our authors are from this great neighborhood.”
Stepping off from 103rd and Western Avenue at Bookies – where the book can be purchased day of or in advance – signing tables will be set up off the sidewalk in front of Running Excels, Ald. Matt O’Shea’s 19th Ward Office, Country Financial, Horse Thief Hollow, Nicky’s of Beverly, Cork & Kerry, County Fair Foods, and Open Outcry. Off the path, books and authors will be at the Edna White Community Garden, 111th and Esmond, with ample parking and plentiful garden space off convenience and extra spacing. More locations may be added. Advance book orders are through donate.advocategiving.org/supportnurses with pick–up locations at Advocate Christ or Bookie. Books are $40 and all proceeds will fund programs in support of the wellness and resilience of the hospital’s nurses, therapists, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals.
Only one year ago the nurses aided the first COVID-19-positive patients, prompting the need to chronicle the experience and offer the public a rare glimpse into what it was like to care for patients at the onset of a global pandemic.
The often difficult, eye-opening accounts confirm the suffering, heartbreak and despair of a pandemic. Readers will grasp the resilience, bravery and adaptability, not just of the health care team, but also the patients’ rich human spirit. Each narrative provides a raw glimpse into what it was like to be a COVID-19 nurse, from the perspectives of their eyes and heart.
Overseeing the book development was Hennessy, who from the outset recognized the most insight into the pandemic would come from the nurses, who have been hands-on, bedside caregivers for more than a year.
“It is my hope that reading about the COVID-19 pandemic through their eyes will bring forth a better understand of how our caregivers have suffered—and yet endured,” said Hennessy.
“Our clinical and support teams cared for all of our patients as if they were family. They also took care of each other because we are family. I am eternally proud of and grateful for their dedication.”