Moms On The Frontline is an editorial series to honor Miami Moms who are helping fight the affects of the global pandemic in Miami. Miami Moms Blog wants to recognize the outstanding work of Moms during this time.
We have been encouraged, challenged, and humbled by the stories of the women we have featured for the last five weeks from hospitals all across Miami-Dade. This week is no exception as we shine a spotlight on Miami Mom, Melissa Rospigliosi, who works at both Baptist Health and Jackson Memorial.
It is our hope that this series will inspire you to not only count your blessings but to also reach out and encourage those you know serving on the frontline. We are all in this together and supporting one another is needed now more than ever.
Meet Melissa Rospigliosi
Melissa, tell us about the work that you do at two of Miami’s hospitals.
I currently work for Baptist Hospital in the ICU as a Registered Nurse and I just started working at Jackson Memorial ICU as a Nurse Practitioner.
The nature of my work consists of taking care of acutely sick patients. Since the pandemic began I have been working on the COVID side at Baptist Health. At Jackson my role is different as I’m on the provider side. Although I’m not on the COVID side there, I am still managing the care of surgical patients who need medical care and attention through all of this.
How has COVID-19 affected your work?
COVID 19 has forever changed our line of work. These past few months have brought out the worst and best of each one of us. It has been survival of the fittest. It’s almost a little embarrassing to be celebrated and referred to as “heroes” because we’ve always done the same work now we’re just more recognized for showing up to the occasion. Although this is the career we chose, in school they don’t prepare you for a global pandemic.
Going to work we feel isolated and in a straight up war zone because, rightfully so, we want to decrease any chance of exposure. One unaccounted face scratch can potentially kill you or someone else. This virus has spread like wild fire, worst of all, this fire is invisible.
Gearing up to enter a patient’s room and having to yell through our N95 masks or N99 masks if we have forgotten supplies or just to let a teammate know we are ready to come out of a patient’s room is challenging. Having to minimize and cluster our nursing care, again to reduce exposure time, is frustrating and stressful. On a usual day we need to enter our patient’s room multiple times in a five minute period. We enter to administer meds, retake a blood pressure, reposition, clean the patient, change supplies, provide ice packs, even reapply an electrode lead that came off by mistake. Only those who have lived it understand what it means to have forgotten something outside before entering a patient’s room.
Let’s not even talk about the headache we leave work with from breathing in our own CO2 all day or the pressure injuries we leave with on our noses or around our face. That assures us that he have a tight enough seal. Everyone is on high alert and emotions are high.
What is it like serving everyday on the frontline?
Working the front line is chaotic. It’s stressful, scary, and incredibly sad. Like I mentioned before, these patients are someone’s mom, dad — someone’s child. Hospitals strictly enforcing lockdown and not allowing visitors is an added stress for families. I cannot imagine how difficult it is for them to rely on us to provide any little information about their loved ones status and not being able to see them or hold them. In a way, we become their families during this time. We hold their hands, make them comfortable, relay messages, and try our best to temporarily be there while the extended family cannot. It’s an added responsibility, but this our job. We signed up for this.
In addition to your busy work as a Nurse and Nurse Practitioner, like many of us, you are also a Mom. Tell us about how COVID-19 has impacted you and your family personally?
Yes, I have one son named Niccolo Alessio. He’s 5 years old and has cerebral palsy.
Where do I start with how this pandemic has influenced my family and personal life? Since my son is special needs, he especially needs his mom during this time where schools are closed. His condition is dependent on constant stimulation and repetition. During this pandemic I don’t see my son for days at a time when I’m on a shift. I don’t get to put him to sleep or wake up to him or participate in Zoom sessions or therapy sessions.
When I do get off shift, it’s a whole process. I get to my car and take 45 minutes to disinfect my shoes, glasses, pens, badge and the parts of my car that I touched. This is done multiple times. Once I get home, I undress at the door, my boyfriend opens the door and removes my shoes one foot at a time with a plastic bag. I take a long borderline boiling shower. When I’m out of the shower I still try to keep distance.
Working during this pandemic has had me losing sleep thinking that I may have touched something and lost track of my own steps. Maybe I didn’t disinfect enough? I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I got my son sick. The thought terrifies me. My sister recently had a baby that I’m not allowed to touch. I haven’t seen my parents. I miss my son and I miss my family. As much as we are praised, people don’t want to be around us. You should see the terrifying looks I get when I need to share an elevator when I’m getting home from work while I’m in scrubs. I don’t blame them. Serving on the frontline can get kind of lonely.
How has being a mother influenced your role at work?
When I became a nurse in 2012 (before my son was born) I made a pledge. As a missioner of health I pledged to dedicate myself to devoted services to human welfare, to advocate, and to do my best to protect my patients as if they were my own family members. When I care for my patients I can’t help but to think, “This is someone’s mom or dad, son or daughter and sibling.” This way of thinking humbles me. It also snaps me into shape when I’m tired during a long day or when I’m feeling defeated after chasing my patient’s labile blood pressure all day and I now need to tell a family we did our best but things aren’t looking good.
I try and think about how I would want someone to do the same for me or my family member. Although I endure long hours at the hospital, I count my blessings. I’m thankful I’m able to walk out whether it be to my son or my family. A lot of these patients we see aren’t as fortunate.
What acts of kindness or encouragement have you seen during this time?
We have received so many words of affirmation and appreciation from people everywhere! People asking to see how they can help by donating masks, hand sanitizers and even food. The biggest act of kindness I’ve encountered is different food companies and families sponsoring meals such as breakfast, lunch, snacks, smoothies, doughnuts, coffee, pastries, and electrolyte replacement refreshments keeping us hydrated. Supermarkets including Costco and Publix are open certain hours only for healthcare workers. The most encouraging thing has been when speaking to families the gratitude they have for taking care of their loved ones during this crazy time. It really feels nice that our work does not go unnoticed.
What message do you have for Miami Moms right now?
We are all in this together. Stay home. Protect yourselves, your babies and your families. Wash your hands. For the love, please stop wearing gloves in your car and to and through the supermarket. The cabin fever will soon come to an end. Therefore, enjoy the time that’s left. This opportunity to stay home with your kiddos doesn’t come often. Enjoy it for those who can’t and wish they could.
Melissa, thank you for sharing with us today and most of all, thank you for faithfully serving on the frontline. Let’s close out our time with you sharing with us 3 of your simple joys. What are 3 things that make you smile?
1 Seeing my sons face light up when he sees me when it’s been a couple of days
2 Seeing my family on FaceTime
3 A home cooked meal with nice glass of wine!
Show your support for Moms serving on the frontline in the comments.
Read our previous Moms On The Frontline Features:
Dianna Hill, Labor & Delivery Nurse, Baptist Hospital
Dr. Melissa Gonzalez, Mercy Hospital
Dr. Jessica Quinones, Kendall Regional Medical Center
Rochelle Ming, Aventura Hospital & Medica Center
To nominate a Mom serving on the frontline please send us an email.
Grateful to know women and Mommas like Melissa! Thank you for all you do!
Melissa, I’m so humbled as I read your words; thank you for all you do every day. God bless you and your family!
Wow Melissa, this is inspiring. Thank you for what you’re doing on a daily basis, empathy for families with loved ones suffering from this disease, and for your advice on how to protect ourselves and others. Know you are very much appreciated not just now but always, and I hope people don’t forget that!
Cierra, thank you for this post!
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