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As the clock ticks toward healing

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Christian Guerrero, RN, shares cafecito with his fellow nurses in the ER.

Christian Guerrero prepares the cafecito and eagerly shares it with his team. The sweet, Cuban coffee is a welcome pick-me-up for the night shift nurses at the AdventHealth Winter Garden ER, and the aroma breathes life into their nightly routine.

“It’s almost midnight,” said Leticia DeRoo, assistant nurse manager. “Who’s ready to have a great day?”

Treating wounds, comforting nervous parents, updating medical records, and discharging patients, each task is done with precision by different members of the team without fanfare, though there are some surprises.

“A patient swallowed cacao seeds,” said Rachael Dillworth, RN. “They look like alien intestines. I had no idea!”

Hope Nieves, the health unit coordinator, said the ER team has seen “the usual mix” of patients tonight – a few headaches, abdominal pain, appendicitis and ankle swelling. All will be discharged after treatment, though a patient with cellulitis may take a bit longer.

“This is a relatively stable night in the ER,” said DeRoo as the patient flow lessens. “We’re approaching a lull. It usually picks up again after 3 a.m.”

During the lull, assistants prepare guest rooms – using “the purple wipes” to chase any germs away. “Ready in 8, 16 and 17,” said a voice via speaker phone. “All clear.”

Rachel Duverge, RN, checks on a patient – a young woman with stomach pain – and updates her records cheerfully. The woman is feeling better now and will be discharged shortly. Known as “curly-haired Rachel” (two RNs share the same name, different spelling), Duverge makes sure the patient leaves with a smile as midnight approaches.

“Feeling better, mama?” she asks playfully. “I told you not to worry. It’s a brand-new day!”

You can almost see the smile through her mask.

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