On multiple occasions cheers rang out from nurses in the Kaiser Permanente Roseville (Calif.) Medical Center conference room while watching the 2012 Olympic swimming competitions. The competition was close to home — two nieces of staff nurse Kathleen Conry, RN, MSN, CCRN, earned gold and silver medals in London.
“The ICU was excited,” said Conry, who works in the ICU. “The nurses were so wonderful and came to watch the races with me.”
More than 150 employees gathered Aug. 1 to watch Alyssa Anderson and the U.S. Womens swim team earn gold in the 4×200 freestyle relay. Kaiser Roseville critical care nurses wore special ICU loves Olympic rings/U.S.A. swimming T-shirts. Then on Aug. 9, hospital staff members arrived at 4 a.m. and looked on as Haley Anderson earned the silver medal nearly two hours later in the 10k marathon open-water swim.
“Everybody felt connected,” said Conry, explaining that even people who didnt normally watch the Olympics felt a bond with the two girls and came to support their fellow nurse.
“It was wonderful,” said Mary Jean Smith, RN, ICU charge nurse at Kaiser Roseville. “Kaiser went above and beyond with its support.”
Conry was grateful to the hospital for holding the catered events, encouraging employees to attend and placing banners with photos of her nieces and well wishes in front of the hospital.Outside the ICU, U.S. Olympic athlete Haley Anderson shows her silver medal to her aunt Kathleen Conry, RN, ICU, and Daniel Johnson, RN 2, interventional services.
“Kaiser did a nice take on it,” Conry said. “It was upbeat for all of the employees and helped everybody connect with the Olympics.”
Conry, who has worked at Kaiser since 1998, could not say enough about her peers. “My whole unit rallied and supported me and my belief in my two nieces,” Conry said. “They shared the joy and brought articles in.”
Many tried to give her money so she could travel to London to watch in person, but Conry said she could not justify the expense with her children in high school and college. Because Conry stayed home, her 91-year-old mom was able to come to the hospital and share the joy of her nieces medals with her and the Kaiser family.
When Haley returned to California, she visited the hospital, wearing her medal, to thank all of the people who supported her. The ICU nurses wore their Olympic T-shirts again that day. Haley visited with patients, answered their questions and had her photograph taken with patients, family members and staff.
“It made me feel good seeing how gracious she was and how humble,” Conry said. She added that Haley motivated people with her determination and by pulling from fourth place into second during the last 400 meters.
“It was absolutely crazy,” Smith said. “A 6.2-mile race. She was in fourth place almost the whole race. In the last couple of hundred yards, she started kicking and came within .4 seconds of getting the gold. Kathy and I went crazy, jumping around. I still get goose bumps when I think about it.”
The Olympian sisters have been swimming since they were 3 years old and failed to make the Olympic team four years ago, but they stayed with it, training 20 to 25 hours a week to prepare. Haley changed events to open-water two years ago, hoping it would give her a better chance at the team. She was one of two open-water swimmers representing the U.S. in the Olympics.
“Nurses should know if you set your heart and have a passion for something, you can reach your goal,” Conry said. “Im sure [Haley] would have liked to have been in the pool, but she was able to reach her goal in another way.”
For a photo gallery, visit www.Nurse.com/Gallery/KaiserOlympian.