Ashley Luchini, Class of 2016, graduated in May 2020 with a nursing degree from Fairfield University and has accepted a position as a labor and delivery nurse at Yale-New Haven Hospital. She has been working as a patient care assistant (PCA) at Yale but the onslaught of COVID-19 thrust Ashley into the midst of the healthcare crisis at the hospital.
Ashley shares her journey with her older sister, Hamden Hall 2014 alumna Ali Luchini who is a surgical ICU nurse at Yale-New Haven Hospital (and has been on the frontlines tirelessly taking care of COVID-19 patients).
Ashley says, “Luckily, my position as a PCA is per diem so I am only required to come into the hospital for 24 hours a month or for additional time if I get called in. At first, I was really eager to get into the hospital to help out, but as I saw my sister come home from work with marks on her face and clearly in distress, I started to become really fearful—that’s when I got the call. During Connecticut's COVID-19 peak, I had been waiting to hear back about RN jobs when my manager called me in. She said that we were in code disease, and that they needed extra hands. When I drove in the next morning, the whole hospital felt very eerie. I work in the pediatric float pool, which means that I am trained for all of the pediatric floors, and I am sent whenever I am needed the most each shift...which can feel like roulette during the pandemic. When I walked into the staffing office that first day, it was absolute chaos. At that point there was coronavirus on every floor in the hospital, so it was really more of a question of how many COVID positive patients would be on the floor I was sent to. Thankfully, I was assigned to the pediatric ICU, which only had a few COVID patients that day. The PICU is challenging emotionally in general, however, that day was particularly taxing. I saw two COVID positive pre-teens/teens. One of them was about to be discharged, and the other was not going to make it.
There are some days in healthcare that remain on your mind and heart forever, and this is definitely one of them. When I went to sleep that night, I couldn’t get what I had seen out of my head. My face still had imprints from my mask, and my ears felt like something had cut into them. I was emotionally exhausted but knew I had to go back and fight again the next day. This gave me a whole new perspective on the virus, as well as on my sister and her co-workers. I appreciated everything she and my other nursing friends had been doing so much more, and the impact of the disease really felt so much closer to home.
Something really beautiful that I noticed was how everyone came together at the hospital. In a time when everyone is too afraid to touch, I saw courage in my co-workers when they cradled a baby whose parents could not visit, or spent extra time in a room with one of our kids to ensure that they did not feel alone. Healthcare is a family, and this pandemic has brought us closer together than we could have imagined. Medicine pulls a lot of our practices from the military, and something that has been on my mind throughout this pandemic is the Navy motto: Don’t give up the ship.
These experiences have given me newfound strength and resilience as I transition from PCA/student to labor and delivery RN in July and continue to fight this disease alongside my friends and family.”
Older sister Ali could not be prouder of how Ashley has answered the call to help out during the global pandemic.
“I am so excited to work alongside my sister in a profession we both cherish so much. I am extremely proud of her.”
Thanks to Ashley for sharing her story and congratulations on her Fairfield University nursing degree.