"The emergency department is the front line of the COVID crisis and making sure the team has what they need is critical to keep the highly qualified team healthy and ready to care for patients.”
If Covid-19 could be encapsulated into a single image, the picture might be that of an emergency room nurse, one whose fatigued eyes are their only identifiable features, as the rest of the person remains hidden behind a barrage of personal protective equipment; surgical mask, eye shield, gloves, cap, and gown.
It is hardly coincidental that the one mark that also identifies a superhero (Superman and Wonder Woman might be the exception) is that of a mask. Though fans of Marvel Comic Superheroes know that their personal heroes wear masks to protect their loved ones from retribution, there also seems an unspoken need to commit their good deeds with a sense of altruism and anonymity, as though thwarting evil and protecting the vulnerable is their higher purpose, not the accolades and recognition.
Here in the Treasure Valley, our own brand of superheroes can be found behind these surgical masks each and every day, stepping into their roles as protectors, caregivers, and sometimes medical warriors. They sometimes find themselves fighting to save lives upon the floors of a hospital theater and often check out after their shifts to return home; their efforts unknown and unseen.
St. Alphonsus Emergency Room nurse, Aja Dina has seen medical trauma in all its many shapes and dramas throughout her twenty-years as an emergency medicine nurse. And over time she has been able fine-hone her skills to fit every unpredictable situation.
Says Dina, “I think my best skills are a sense of humor, calm under pressure, and curiosity. We see a lot of difficult things each day, and we see people whose lives have been changed by trauma, illness, or an unexpected diagnosis. Another important skill is a calm demeanor. The crazier the situation the more calm emergency medicine professionals become. It is an important skill.”
Like a superhero with the latest gadgets and weaponry, so to do the needs of our healthcare providers constantly shapeshift and evolve.
Says Dina, “Medicine changes constantly as new technology and science improves the care we give patients. If a person isn’t curious about how to provide better care they will not give their patients the best care available. I am always wondering what we can do to provide better care to save lives.”
Though Superheroes seem to all share a story of fate and destiny bringing about their previously unknown gifts and abilities to life, so too have been the stories of many frontline healthcare providers.
Says Dina of entering the field of emergency medicine, “After graduating high school, I began my search for a job. Thankfully, I was hired at Saint Alphonsus, as an Emergency Department Registrar. In this role, I was able to soak in all the heroics of the nurses and doctors rushing around saving lives. I knew in the first few months that I wanted to be a part of this team that could care for anything that came through the door. I went on to become an ED technician and was able to learn even more about emergency medicine. The next logical step was nursing school, and I luckily attended nursing school at CWI and started in the emergency department as an RN.”
And like a scene ripped straight out of a Marvel blockbuster film, we have met our own supervillain; the insidious and invisible novel coronavirus which has infiltrated our lives in unprecedented ways, creating fear and uncertainty on a global level, yet even in our darkest hours we’ve seen our real life heroes step up to this fight. Armed with the years of resiliency and dedication, emergency room nurse Aja Dina has taken her adaptability skills onto a whole new level of medical challenges.
Says Dina, “As we learn more about COVID-19 and deal with shortages of PPE nationwide, we've had to be flexible and calm to ensure that we think about care in a logical manner. The emergency department is the front line of the COVID crisis and making sure the team has what they need is critical to keep the highly qualified team healthy and ready to care for patients.”
And when she’s not out fighting the good fight?
Says Dina, “I started playing the piano a few years ago. It is a great way to de-stress. I also love riding my bike, it's another way to take time for myself.”