April 24, 2020

Nurse sees God’s healing touch ‘in this time of the unknown’

Catie Walden wears her protective equipment as she cares for children as a charge nurse in the pediatric emergency department at Ascension St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis. (Submitted photo)

Catie Walden wears her protective equipment as she cares for children as a charge nurse in the pediatric emergency department at Ascension St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis. (Submitted photo)

By John Shaughnessy

Catie Walden doesn’t consider herself a “hero”—a word often used to describe health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. But she does embrace two other titles of honor: nurse and mom.

As the mother of five children ranging in age from 12 to 3, Walden always strives to keep them safe, healthy and happy. She has the same goal for the children she cares for as a charge nurse in the pediatric emergency department at Ascension St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis.

Yet her motherly instincts have reached a heightened level of concern and care as the coronavirus crisis continues to have an impact on Indiana.

Fortunately, her unit has seen “just a handful” of children affected by the virus in mostly less life-threatening ways, with difficulty of breathing being a common factor. Still, the pediatric emergency unit is just separated from the adult emergency area by a set of double doors.

“We’re dealing with a great bit of unknown,” Walden says. “It’s a hot bed. You’re walking into an area that is alive with the virus. There’s a great deal of anxiety that you’ll bring it home to your kids, your spouse and the community.”

At the same time, she also has a great deal of faith in the nurses she works with, colleagues who “shine in the midst of this.” And she has a similar respect for the physicians who “have really stepped up” and who have strived to protect the staff.

“You see God’s work played out in that way,” says Walden, a member of St. Maria Goretti Parish in Westfield, Ind., in the Lafayette Diocese. “It has moved me closer to God.”

The crisis has also changed her usual routines in relation to God.

“I do miss going to Mass tremendously. It’s painful to get five kids there, but when you find you don’t have it, it’s a missing piece.”

So they watch a livestream Sunday Mass together at home as a family.

Adjustments have also come when she returns from her 12-hour shift at the hospital from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. She takes off her shoes before she gets in the car. Her clothes go in the washer immediately after she arrives home. And there are “no hugs, no kisses” for her children until she has showered.

The crisis has also led to one overwhelmingly positive change that she has embraced.

“There has been some good that has come out of this—the person-to-person relationships,” she says. “That’s where I find God the most. I’m spending a lot of time with my family, and that’s wonderful. I’ve had this heightened connection with my colleagues, and it’s wonderful.”

And while she can’t visit with her mother for her mom’s safety, their phone conversations have deepened.

“In this time of the unknown, God has provided these improved relationships with other people. That has strengthened my faith. That’s what God has provided me.” †

 

Related: Story of Katie Kennedy

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