Healing Hands Award: ICU Step Down Unit

In March of 2020, while the nation came to a halt due to COVID-19, Debra Brafman was struck by an unrelated critical illness. She was rushed to Morristown Medical Center by ambulance, and while undergoing emergency surgery in the Sameth Emergency Department, her heart stopped.

“I coded, and they saved my life,” Brafman, a 67-year-old, retired behavioral counselor, said. “They couldn’t finish the surgery because of my heart condition. They waited four days, and then I went into surgery again.”

The surgery was scheduled for a Saturday, and by Monday, new visitor restrictions were put in place*.

“It was a crazy experience, and I can barely remember the sequence of events,” Brafman said. “The only people I had any connection with during the scariest time of my life were the nurses in my unit. And thank God for them. They became my family.”

It was Brafman’s first time in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Step Down Unit after a series of unexpected surgeries for a hiatal (abdominal) hernia. She couldn’t rely on the comfort of family and friends to help her cope.FMMC_HealingHandsIllustration2021_123-02-(1).jpg
Despite her family’s absence, Brafman slowly healed and eventually returned to her home. She was back in touch with the hospital in no time at all, but this time, it was to make a Healing Hands Award tribute gift in honor of the kindness of her caregivers in the ICU Step Down Unit.

“This gift is to recognize those special nurses that stepped up with extraordinary care,” Brafman said. “They spent a lot of time with me when my own family couldn’t be there. It was a lonely experience,
and they made it so much nicer.”

Although large portions of her experience remain a blur, Brafman remains focused on all the little things the nurses did to make her stay more bearable.

“One of the nurses’ aides would rush in to see me when she started her shift in the afternoon to see how I was doing,” Brafman said.

“She would joke with me that my hair was a mess and needed some help, and then she would shampoo it, comb it through, and braid it. It was such a thoughtful gesture. Then there was the nurse that brought me warm washcloths. Several of them held my hands when fluid was being removed from my lungs. The way they spoke to me in their kind manner, I will never forget.”
To honor one or more of Morristown Medical Center’s team members with a Healing Hands Award, please visit our Healing Hands page

*Guidance from care teams and statewide health officials led Atlantic Health System
to limit visitors at its medical centers during COVID-19 surges.

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