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“Things changed overnight,” Kit Johnson told The Leaven.
“A few weeks ago, I thought this might’ve been blown out of proportion,” said Johnson, who graduated from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, in 2015 and works in St. Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, Missouri. Now, the crisis escalating so that “I feel like I didn’t have time to process it all. Now things change by the hour. We’re constantly getting updates.”
The Leaven is the Archdiocesan newspaper for Kansas City-Kansas, and its reporter Moira Cullings covered the nursing response to the coronavirus pandemic by focusing on nursing graduates of Benedictine College. Benedictine College nursing has recently been named a top 50 nursing school in the Midwest by Nursing Schools Almanac. Shown above are nurses Molly Huber, right, and Kit Johnson.
Johnson remembered that when she learned that COVID-19 patients would be reserved to one floor of her hospital. Her floor.
She knows that her staff would “at some point go into crisis mode,” Johnson told the Leaven, but she tries to keep her focus. “I’m trying not to get so caught up in all of the anxiety and fear,” she said.
“You just have to remember that you’re taking care of Christ,” she added.
The college’s nursing program emphasizes faith as well as excellence. Johnson described having her hands blessed by Abbot James Albers at commencement in 2015 (shown above).
“He told us we are the hands and feet of Christ,” she said. “Benedictine’s nursing program is unique in the sense that they always reminded us to care for the holistic person,” she said, “their spiritual health, mental health and physical health.”
The article also focused on Benedictine nurse Molly Huber who graduated the same year as Johnson and works at Children’s Mercy’s Adele Hall Campus in Kansas City, Mo.
Huber has learned to appreciate that Benedictine’s program is named after Mother Teresa, and has been inspired by her example.
The college’s nursing program is housed in the Mother Teresa Center for Nursing and Health Education, which was opened on Mother Teresa’s 100th birth anniversary in 2010. The college unveiled a statue of Mother Teresa at the building on the day the Albanian nun was canonized in 2016.
“Benedictine was so good about making sure you know you’re treating a person before you’re treating a sick person or a COVID patient,” Huber told the Leaven. “They’re a person first, and that’s who you’re treating.”
Like Mother Teresa, she has learned to “use the gifts that God’s given us” to go out and help people, not even just physically with their health, but also emotionally, and to help bring that peace to them during a difficult time.”
She said public support for nurses’ work has been beautiful. She came to work one day to find a great welcome by the entryway.
“Someone, it looked like little kids, had made these signs,” she said. “And they lined them up all the way, thanking the nurses. When I see that walking into work, it reminds me that this is why I’m a nurse.”
Huber said it is appropriate not just to be grateful for nurses, but also for the spiritual help that is being made available.
“It’s not just people in the medical field that are going out of their way to help people,” she told the Leaven. “The priests and whoever’s taking the time to set up the virtual Masses are helping just as much in other ways, for our spiritual health.”
She echoed Kit Johnson in saying, “This is why we did become nurses — to help people. …You don’t get to pick and choose when is the best time to do that.”
She summed up her attitude: “We have to trust in our medical system and trust in God that he’ll help us through this.”