ICU nurse practitioner helps isolated patients be with family during final moments


Faces from the Front Line

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – As a nurse practitioner at Vanderbilt Medical Center, Kipp Shipley cares for those in the intensive care unit, which is now dedicated solely to COVID-19 patients.

“One thing that can’t be discounted is the loneliness of this disease process,” said Shipley.

He takes pride in serving their medical needs. “These patients are often in very strict isolation and if it comes to the point where they’re in their dying moments, unfortunately, we’re unable to get their family close to them.”

Shipley stays by their side during their final moments on earth.

“We’ve been able to use different methods of video conferencing, things that we have at our disposal, to try and bring these families peace and comfort during that time.”

It’s an emotional toll that weighs on everyone on the front line. “I’ve been there the majority of the past week, so it’s been good to come home and take a few moments,” said Shipley.

Moments to relish the love of his 8-month-old son Knox, and the arms of his wife Noel who’s a nurse.
“You can’t overstate the importance of family and being able to destress and be able to cope with everything that’s going on.”

He admits it’s a careful balancing act as memories from work are never far from his mind. That includes the concern of getting COVID-19 himself, “Anyone that has a realistic understanding of this disease process should be nervous.”

Shipley credits Vanderbilt for supplying the proper PPR and praises his team for their dedication. “Hope is definitely something we all have to latch onto during this time.”

While the stress level is higher than normal, Shipley says COVID-19 has also changed more than just operations. “I think there’s an increasingly heightened sense of that level of spiritually. We are seeing more of that and that’s a good thing.”

And after a day to decompress, Shipley will don his protective gear, head back work to the bedside of those who need him most. “It goes back to the calling we as health care professionals have, to take care of those in need.”

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