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Left: Lisa Connelly, DNP ‘21, Katie Judge BSN, ‘19, Jenna Auclair, BSN ‘18, Travis Rich, BSN, ‘18, and Haley Fortier, BSN, ‘16.  

“I entered nursing to be able to make a difference for those in need. Nurses care for people when they are most vulnerable and if we can make their experience just a little brighter, then we have made a difference,” says Lisa Connelly, assistant professor at Rhode Island College’s School of Nursing. 

For almost 30 years, Connelly has been working at Rhode Island Hospital. Now, she is on the frontline to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Overseeing staff for the entire hospital, she regularly responds to emergencies, provides staff support and addresses patient issues as they arise.

In this time of crisis, Connelly believes that the nurses caring for the COVID positive patients need to feel supported and know that they are making a difference in the lives of so many. “I have seen them give tirelessly of themselves with minimal complaint. I have seen the incredible teamwork they have displayed as they work to cross-train. I feel grateful to live and work in an area where those on the frontlines are supported,” she remarks.

However, working on the frontline means taking the necessary precautions to keep herself and others healthy. Since she is working in a “warm unit” – a section of the hospital with all COVID positive patients where staff wear personal protective equipment one-hundred percent of the time to do rounds — Connelly and her team have become a family who take care of each other and their patients.  

The units do create a distance from their patients, though – one of the many, perceptible differences that the onslaught of the virus has precipitated in many areas of life. Another such protective distancing measure at the hospital is that COVID positive patients and their families face visitation restrictions. Connelly feels compassion for those families and patients because she believes that loved ones are an integral part in the care of patients. “I have always considered it to be a gift for a family member to be with a loved one when they pass,” she notes.

This story is Part 3 in a series of stories about members of the Rhode Island College community serving various roles at Rhode Island Hospital during the COVID-19 crisis. Read the other parts here: Part 1Part 2 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6