“We are their lifeline to the outside world.”
“We get to actually know the patients. We get to know their family members. We get to hold hands. We get to laugh. We get to cry. This is what I was meant to do, for sure.”
Life for a nurse can be demanding, and the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit (BMT) is no different. Typically, patients in this unit are immunosuppressed, unable to leave their room for weeks. While many patients’ family members frequently stop by, they still spend a lot of time alone, especially at night. It’s during these times of loneliness that Chris Lewis, a nurse in UK HealthCare’s BMT Unit, steps in.
“We care for them when they’re at their worst. A lot of times, we are the person who they depend on. These patients are here for months sometimes, so we are their family before they go home,” said Chris.
Health care has always been a calling for Chris. As a teenager, he was able to witness the high level of effort and care when his grandmother was hospitalized at UK HealthCare. He saw the positive impact that a caring nurse can have on a patient, and it’s something he never forgot. “It’s a privilege for me to give back and to be that nurse for the patients.”
But Chris is doing more than simply giving back to his patients. He gives them his all, making sure they’re comfortable and calm in even the worst of circumstances. His attention to detail has not gone unnoticed: in 2017 he was a DAISY Award recipient, nominated by a colleague who saw him go above and beyond with a patient..
“We had a patient who had been in and out of restraints and didn’t know where she was. She didn’t have family to visit her either. I walked in one night and found her confused, so I turned on music for her, grabbed another friend and we gave her a manicure and pedicure, cleaned her nails up, and took care of her three or four days in a row to make her feel more comfortable,” said Chris.
The qualities that make Chris excel at his work—his dedication, his outgoing and caring personality, and his ability to handle many different demands—are echoed in his personal life. He and his husband are raising two teenagers: managing school schedules, cheerleading competitions, and life with four dogs. Despite the demands of Chris’s job, he always prioritizes time to spend on family trips.
Even with the sometimes-chaotic nature of life in the BMT, Chris finds ways to help his fellow nurses. He serves as the co-chair of the BMT’s Staff Empowerment Committee, making sure that morale is high among the nurses and care techs so that they can give their patients the best care as a team.
“Nurses are the most compassionate, caring people. We are the ones who are at the bedside when no one else is available. We are the ones who help the patients with basic, daily needs. And we love to do that. It’s wonderful to be a part of this grand scheme of UK HealthCare and know that we get to touch the patients’ life on an individual level. It’s just an awesome job.”