In her more than two decades as a nurse, Kim Mason has never stopped being a lifelong learner, a trait she credits to her Muskegon Community College nursing instructors, especially Pam Brown.
“She taught me to never reach a professional goal without setting the next one,” explained Mason, who went on to earn advanced nursing degrees from the University of Phoenix and Michigan State University, national certifications in critical care and cardiac surgery nursing and a board certification as an adult-gerontology clinical nurse specialist.
Since graduating from MCC’s Nursing Program in 1998, Mason has worked in acute and critical care for Hackley Hospital and later Mercy Health at the Mercy Campus in Muskegon. A cardiovascular clinical nurse specialist, she is part of the cardiothoracic surgery team that treats heart and lung surgery patients.
But the current coronavirus crisis has Mason, like many of her colleagues, downshifting gears to meet the new health challenge. In her case, it’s rekindling old frontline critical care skills and prepping local nurses for worst case scenarios.
“COVID-19 preparation has included delaying elective surgeries to reduce the patient’s exposure risks, as well as to preserve hospital beds and supplies for COVID patients,” explained Mason. “So, I have offered to cross train back to frontline staff ICU (Intensive Care Unit) nursing, which I did for several years prior to this position.”
“I have a lot of skills to dust off and equipment to learn quickly,” added Mason, an MCC adjunct clinical instructor. She was also recruited to assist with rapid education efforts to train additional nurses from other units in the care of ventilator patients and certain IV medications. “The hope is to spend all this time and effort in preparation to not be needed. We are all praying that our numbers do not rise and won’t require all the additional staff we are preparing.”
“I am currently educating nurses to assist in ICU, but ultimately may be frontline ICU should our numbers in Muskegon go up,” noted Mason, who has encountered many rewarding experiences as a nurse and community member during these trying days and weeks.
“The community support for the hospital staff has been overwhelming. There have been food deliveries from local businesses and even individual families, parades of support from the emergency workers and towing services, and amazing words of encouragement everywhere we look. We are all honored, moved to tears sometimes.”
“Times of crisis seem to bring forward the best and worst of people and communities. It’s all about focus and perspective, recognizing and embracing the beautiful acts of kindness and compassion all around us – people in the community caring for the homebound elderly, providing meals and other needs for so many that our out of work and financially in crisis.”
Some of life’s greatest lessons, in good times and bad, start with the simple step of caring.