At the end of screening Monday night I looked at my friend through the tablet who works at the shelter in person. I asked if she was OK, and she said “pray for me, Bre”. I said that I will and we took a moment that felt like a virtual hug.

Lately things have felt like the sizzley air before a lightening storm. Nurse Disrupted is here for pandemic response right now, but this can’t be separated from the ongoing protests around racial injustice, the upcoming 2020 elections, and the big question mark around how the job-kid-school thing is actually going to work. Maybe it was just the the full moon, but Monday was full of upset voices and exasperated faces.

I needed to take a deep breath and assure every person I made contact with knew we were an anchor. We teach volunteer nurses to look into the camera so you can make eye contact – so that you can connect, reassure people in frightening times, and see them deeply. I had one guest say ‘I had a negative COVID test and any question you ask me will be negative’. Screening only works when it’s done fully. People will only answer honestly if they trust you. And I could see her, and she must have had a hell of a day. And she could see me, and I think she could see that I cared, and we got through it.

Part of nursing is navigating the science in the fray. I’ve been thinking a lot about Mary Seacole, arguably one of the first nurse practitioners in history who set up The British Hotel in the Crimean War. Behind the lines, against the odds, and creating the framework for modern nursing. Seacole was recognized for her compassion, skills, and bravery. And that combination is what makes nursing work 165 years after she created this foundation.

Our science alone won’t be heard by people who are fearful and worn right now. We need to use massive compassion in this time of unrest so that the best of science is heard and practiced.

The next day was calmer. Maybe it was the moon, the prayer, or the refusal to choose anything but compassion as the method of applying the science that works in this fight against COVID-19.