An ode to a beloved ICU nurse manager

Originally published on KevinMD

Once upon a time, I worked for a large hospital in the surgical-trauma ICU. It was just a six-month gig, and I had to travel from home further than I wanted. But my son would be starting college soon, and the $10,000 bonus was too irresistible.

Diane was the manager. The most kind, skilled, and helpful person I have ever met as an ICU manager.

She had every possible attribute as a leader that I have ever experienced.

When a patient had an “explosion” (C. diff for sure), she was there to help us with the clean-up. When there was a cardiac arrest, a code blue, she was there with her compressions or passing out emergent drugs.
She was honest and believed in positive guidance but also believed in fairly confronting the nurse that didn’t follow through on certain procedures or policies.

She remembered all on our special days! Like “how was your daughter’s birthday”?

Or “how was your son’s high school graduation”? Or is your grandmother feeling better?

We were not a number. We were a real person.

Beyond her hands-on in the ICU jungle, she knew how to run a tight ship. She had her budget, her equipment, her nurse-patient ratio up to par.

I so used to toxic management, that I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

We adored her. And the physicians adored her too.

I would have worked for this woman forever. The epitome of a nurse and a nurse manager.

A new director of nursing came to town. She was the new boss. We never saw her face. We never met her. But her presence was thick.
And this well-oiled ICU machine came to a screeching halt.

Our beloved manager, Diane, was asked to step down. We were in shock. There was no rhyme or reason. She surely was the best.

We had heard words from above, that Diane had too much control. And the director did not like that.

Diane was in shock as so the rest of us. She stepped down humbly, and went part-time in the PACU. She was near retirement.

We were now told we would have to do 3-1 assignments. This was unsafe for the patients, for the nurses and for our nursing license.

A tech was taken away from us. And the workload became unbearable.
A perfectly wonderful ICU quickly came tumbling down.

Many of us left soon thereafter. The environment became toxic. Doctors left also.

I never met another manager like Diane. Maybe I never will.

But hats off to you Diane. And I hope you are living happily in your retirement. You certainly deserve the very best. You earned every ounce of love and respect from us.

We were thankful that we mattered to you.

And you mattered to us.