Treating patients in a city that quickly became a COVID-19 epicenter, Lauren Delahanty Gorosh ’09, RN, speaks about the perseverance and discipline she needed to get through the grueling early months of the pandemic.
For the past two years, Lauren has spent her professional career in the Neuro Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans. Caring for critically ill patients who suffer from strokes, seizures, neuromuscular diseases, spinal traumas and a plethora of comorbidities, Lauren adapts a critical-thinking and creative mindset, while fiercely advocating for those in need, to each patient with whom she comes in contact.
Lauren shares, “The values I learned at Marymount have carried me throughout my life, and led me to the successes I have had thus far. As a nurse, I come in contact with patients from all walks of life. I try to educate patients and their families about how they can improve their health. I have to explain the long-term implications of their conditions in creative ways so that they can thoroughly understand what I am trying to teach. I often do this by using analogies. For instance, I use the water pressure in a garden hose to describe hypertension. Being creative allows you to reach people where they are.”
Each day in the life of a nurse differs, depending on the patients who are admitted. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck New Orleans, Lauren shared that no one was prepared for the pace that patients came in. Though Ochsner is a large and well-resourced hospital, Lauren shared that at the height of the pandemic, they lacked the critical resources that they needed. “I was reusing my N95 mask, we had to hire travel nurses, and all five 30-bed COVID-ICUs were completely full.”
Lauren chose to work extra shifts during the peak – not because she was required to do so, but because she wanted to do so in order to support her colleagues and patients. The hospital quickly became her second home.
Reflecting on her years at Marymount, Lauren credits her perseverance to having been a member of the Swim and Water Polo Teams. “Playing in these sports at Marymount taught me teamwork, discipline, and time management,” Lauren says. “These teams showed me what a home away from home looked like and how hard work pays off.”
Lauren also explains how Marymount taught her to adapt to new environments, a value that prepared her well for the unimaginable disruption of the pandemic. Lauren was tasked with training several travel nurses to learn the entire hospital system, sometimes in one or two shifts, all while collaborating with nurse practitioners, certified registered nurse anesthetists, post-anesthesia care unit nurses, emergency department nurses, and pediatric nurses to support the influx of cases at the hospital.
“This entire experience, though emotionally taxing, has been an opportunity for further learning. With my stroke patients, there are often subtle changes; but if someone cannot breathe, as often occurs with COVID patients, you can see that,” Lauren explains. “My focus had to shift to treat acute respiratory distress, ensuring that patients had their airways protected, oxygenated, and ventilated properly.”
Imbued with the lessons taught in her Marymount science classes, Lauren mastered asking the question of ‘why.’ She asks this question when thinking of the patients whom she lost as a result of the pandemic, and also when thinking through the best ways to solve hard problems. The long-term effects for survivors of Coronavirus are still unknown. Lauren ruminates over the why, asking why certain comorbidities affect COVID patients more than others. She stresses how, as global citizens, every person must do their part to continue the reduction of cases worldwide.
When asked what advice she would give to current Marymount students, Lauren emphatically states that she encourages them to take the road less traveled. “It will be worth it,” she shares. “I was the only girl from my grammar school to attend Marymount. I was the only one from my Marymount class to attend Clemson University, and I did not know a soul when my husband’s job led us to New Orleans. Going out on your own is hard, but you will learn a lot about yourself and your own strength.”