Now more than ever, Independence Blue Cross recognizes the invaluable role that nurses play in caring for our families and communities. To show our appreciation, we are honoring outstanding nurses in our region through the second annual Celebrate Caring campaign. As part of the campaign, we’re highlighting how our winners and honorees are making a difference in the community through compassion and superior care.
Andrea Lindley, RN, BSN, SICU RN, is an Intensive Care Nurse at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia. She was nominated for Celebrate Caring by a patient’s daughter, who credits Andrea with saving her mom’s life. Andrea’s nominator wrote that when her mom was taken off the organ transplant list, Andrea advocated for her until she was put back on. Fortunately, the patient ended up having the surgery to save her life. Throughout this difficult time, Andrea was there to help support the patient and her family.
Since then, Andrea’s been on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic and was even featured in the New York Times article, “How Millions of Women Became the Most Essential Workers in America.”
Learn more about Andrea’s passion for intensive care — as well as the challenges she’s overcome to continue to deliver exceptional care to patients — in the interview below.
IBX: What made you go into nursing? Any notable inspirations or career changes along the way?
Andrea: My mom, grandmom, aunt, and sister — we’re all nurses. It’s in our blood. I remember visiting the nursing home with my mom growing up and helping there. It came naturally to me. I liked the hands-on aspect of bedside care. I wrote that I wanted to be in health care in my fifth-grade yearbook.
I’ve been a nurse for 12 years. The biggest change in my career came in 2017 when my father-in-law was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. I’d always wanted to go to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), but I was comfortable in medical-surgical nursing and hesitated to try something new. When he got sick, I knew I needed to learn critical care, so I put in a transfer request. I wanted to up my skills and support his end-of-life journey in any way possible.
Those skills came in handy again when my daughter, who was seven at the time, was diagnosed with leukemia. I was educated in infectious disease and was able to advocate for her alongside her care team. I’m happy to share that she’s doing well now. We recently celebrated two years of remission.
IBX: That’s wonderful news. Congratulations! Can you talk more about your role and why you’re passionate about it?
Andrea: Working in the ICU is a unique job. We’re [the patients] line of defense when they cannot speak. We do everything not only to save their lives, but to minimize complications. As an ICU nurse, I dig into the chart and act as a detective to bring every potential issue to the surface. I look for any little hint of something we need to address.
That can be more challenging now that COVID-19 precautions prevent family from being at the bedside. They play an important role in a patient’s recovery. The same way I advocated for my daughter at her bedside, patients’ family members pick up on things, assist where they can, and translate when there’s a language barrier. Even their presence alone is helpful because it’s comforting to the patient.
Nursing is important work, and I do it on behalf of so many families. I’ve saved people’s lives. I’ve gotten them stabilized, out of the ICU, and home. Nurses are the backbone of the hospital in many ways, and their service is worth recognizing.
IBX: As an ICU nurse at Temple University Hospital, you’ve been on the frontlines of the pandemic since spring. How has that affected you?
Andrea: Frankly, working during the pandemic is scary. As an essential health care worker, you worry about what you might bring home to your family. My daughter’s cancer history makes her immunocompromised. It’s a risk. I take every precaution because I’m not going to walk away when people need me most.
Even when I’m not in the COVID-19 ICU, I wear all my personal protective equipment: my N95 surgical mask, my face shield, gown, and gloves — no matter what. Just for my daughter. It’s important that health care workers are properly equipped to be on the frontlines. We’re exposed daily, and our families are too.
IBX: Thank you for your unwavering commitment to caring for others, despite challenging circumstances. How have you coped with the stress of the past several months?
Andrea: My anxiety was overwhelming, so I talked to my doctor. I went on medication when my daughter was sick. That fear was resurfacing, so we changed the dosage during the height of the pandemic. Knowing I had to go to work the next day was hard. But I showed up every day and took every precaution. I have a whole routine when I get home. I change and shower before greeting anyone, including our dog. In the beginning, I completely avoided hugging and kissing my kids. I didn’t totally isolate myself, but I was super mindful of every interaction.
Independence Blue Cross would like to thank Andrea and all frontline workers for everything you do to keep our communities running during these unprecedented times.