Rush University Medical Center

Retired Nurse Returns to the Front Lines

When the COVID-19 pandemic started, Martha Kuhr decided to help

Newswise — Retirement usually means years of vacations and relaxation. A time to kick up your feet and celebrate decades of hard work. But for one nurse, retirement didn’t last for long. 

Martha Kuhr, RN, retired from Rush University Medical Center in 2018 and never thought she would return to an intensive  care unit, a workplace she had grown to love over the past four decades. But when the COVID-19 pandemic reared its ugly head, she knew her knowledge and skills were needed more than ever. 

After graduating from Rush University in 1984, Kuhr spent her entire career at the Medical Center. Knowing she wanted to  work in an intensive care unit, she accepted a position working bedside in the surgical intensive care unit (SICU) the minute it was offered.  

For more than 30 years, Kuhr worked in the Medical Center’s SICU, now known as the cardioscience intensive care unit (CVICU). “I stayed around because I liked the environment. It was face-paced,” Kuhr explains. “When I started, we cared for a wide variety of patients: cardiac, general surgery, even pediatric cardiac surgery.”

Kuhr loved her job, but when offered an early retirement in 2018, it was too good to pass up. She began to adjust into a retired life, which included taking road cycling trips with her husband.

“My husband and I love to bike,” she says. “We’ve been to Europe, New Zealand, Canada and so many different places in the United States.”

‘I didn’t want to waste my skills’

In March 2020, Kuhr had just returned home to Lombard, Illinois, after a vacation in Arizona. As COVID-19 began to spread across the United States, she knew she needed to be back in the Medical Center’s CVICU. Because of her love and respect for her colleagues, she couldn’t let them go through this alone. 

Before the pandemic, the CVICU treated cardiac medical and cardiac surgical patients and included patients on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). When the Medical Center started using ECMO as a way treat those with severe COVID-19, the CVICU became the unit where the sickest patients with COVID-19 received care.   

“I could have volunteered to help with COVID-19 testing,” Kuhr says. “But I felt a strong call to go back. I didn’t want to waste my skills, I wanted to be with my colleagues and friends and be in the fight, not just sit on my hands.”

While she didn’t know if it was even possible to come back, she knew she had to try. Kuhr started making phone calls to colleagues who still worked in the CVICU, saying she would come back and do whatever the unit needed help with. 

When she received an email from Rush asking retired nurses to come back and help with the Medical Center’s COVID-19 response. Kuhr signed up immediately. On June 8, she returned to the CVICU, rejoining her friends caring for those battling the deadly disease.

‘Nursing is a calling, it’s not a cliché’

Coming back to the CVICU during the pandemic was a vivid experience for Kuhr. “It not a pretty disease,” she explains. “It’s a long slow slog back to some kind of health, if you have bad enough symptoms.” 

Witnessing severe COVID-19 patients was hard, and seeing patients struggling to recover without the in-person support of family and friends was tough to watch. It also is one of the situations where nurses have played a vital role. 

Throughout the pandemic, nurses throughout the Medical Center have been at the bedside of patients who couldn’t have visitors. These nurses were not only providing medical care but also were giving them emotional and mental support that no one else was able to offer.  Without the work of Kuhr and so many more nurses just like her, Rush would been able to fully care for patients and put them on a path to recovery. 

“Nursing is a calling, it’s not a cliché,” Kuhr says. “You either hear the call or you don’t. You either love it or you don’t, it isn’t for everybody.”

Kuhr’s last day in CVICU was on Friday, April 23, nearly a year after she returned. Kuhr felt it was the right time to enter back into retirement as the COVID-19 vaccine was being distributed to more patients and the hospitalization rate of COVID-19 patients was slowing down. She was surrounded by new colleagues and those she had known for more than 20 years as they celebrated her “re-retirement.” 

While Kuhr says this was her final time working at Rush, her work as a medical professional is never done. She continues to educate those around her about COVID-19 and its severity and is not afraid to debunk any myths or rumors she hears others spreading. Kuhr is using her experience in the CVICU to provide examples for people to not only to take the disease seriously but also to get vaccinated for COVID-19 to protecting themselves and their community. 

Looking back at her 34-year career and her work during the pandemic, the words hard and satisfying come to mind.

“If you are drawn to helping people get better, going to battles alongside your fellow nurses, and are willing to see some bad things, some ugly things and get through it, it can be very satisfying,“ she says



Filters close

Showing results

110 of 5861
Released: 23-Jun-2021 12:10 PM EDT
Phone swabs can accurately detect COVID-19
University College London

An accurate, non-invasive, and low-cost method of testing for COVID-19 using samples taken from the screens of mobile phones has been developed by a team led by UCL researchers at Diagnosis Biotech.

Newswise: NIH study suggests COVID-19 prevalence far exceeded early pandemic cases
Released: 23-Jun-2021 11:35 AM EDT
NIH study suggests COVID-19 prevalence far exceeded early pandemic cases
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering

In a new study, NIH researchers report that the prevalence of COVID-19 in the United States during spring and summer of 2020 far exceeded the known number of cases and that infection affected the country unevenly.

Released: 23-Jun-2021 11:25 AM EDT
Half of young adults with covid-19 have persistent symptoms 6 months after
University of Bergen

A paper published in the prestigious journal Nature Medicine on long-COVID, describes persistent symptoms six months after acute COVID-19, even in young home isolated people.

Newswise:Video Embedded covid-19-vaccine-hesitancy-dr-vin-gupta-narrates-new-american-thoracic-society-video
VIDEO
Released: 23-Jun-2021 9:40 AM EDT
COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy: Dr. Vin Gupta Narrates New American Thoracic Society Video
American Thoracic Society (ATS)

The American Thoracic Society rolls out a new video to address vaccine hesitancy and answer common questions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

18-Jun-2021 11:00 AM EDT
Had COVID-19? One Vaccine Dose Enough; Boosters For All, Study Says
American Chemical Society (ACS)

A new study in ACS Nano supports increasing evidence that people who had COVID-19 need only one vaccine dose, and that boosters could be necessary for everyone in the future.

Released: 22-Jun-2021 5:10 PM EDT
Tecnología de inteligencia artificial y ECG puede rápidamente descartar infección por COVID-19
Mayo Clinic

La inteligencia artificial puede ofrecer un manera de determinar con exactitud que una persona no está infectada con la COVID-19. Un estudio internacional y retrospectivo descubrió que la infección por SARS-CoV-2, el virus que causa la COVID-19, provoca sutiles cambios eléctricos en el corazón. Un electrocardiograma (ECG) mediado por inteligencia artificial detecta estos cambios y puede servir como una prueba rápida y confiable para descartar la infección por COVID-19.

Released: 22-Jun-2021 4:45 PM EDT
Penn Medicine to Use $1M from City of Philadelphia for Additional Community Vaccination Clinics
Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Penn Medicine will continue its collaboration with the West and Southwest Philadelphia communities to operate a series of COVID-19 vaccine clinics in partnership with community organizations, faith-based institutions, restaurants, barbershops, and even professional sports teams thanks to $1 million in funding from the City of Philadelphia, in partnership with PMHCC.

Released: 22-Jun-2021 12:30 PM EDT
Political Variables Carried More Weight Than Healthcare in Government Response to COVID-19
Binghamton University, State University of New York

Political institutions such as the timing of elections and presidentialism had a larger influence on COVID-19 strategies than the institutions organizing national healthcare, according to a research team led by a professor at Binghamton University, State University of New York.

22-Jun-2021 12:00 PM EDT
Study Testing How Well COVID-19 Vaccine Prevents Infection and Spread of SARS-CoV-2 Among University Students Now Expands to Include Young Adults Beyond the University Setting
Covid-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN)

The Prevent COVID U study, which launched in late March 2021 to evaluate SARS-CoV-2 infection and transmission among university students vaccinated with the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, has expanded beyond the university setting to enroll young adults ages 18 through 29 years and will now also include people in this age group who choose not to receive a vaccine.

Newswise: First Wave COVID-19 Data Underestimated Pandemic Infections
18-Jun-2021 8:30 AM EDT
First Wave COVID-19 Data Underestimated Pandemic Infections
American Institute of Physics (AIP)

Two COVID-19 pandemic curves emerged within many cities during the one-year period from March 2020 to March 2021. Oddly, the number of total daily infections reported during the first wave is much lower than that of the second, but the total number of daily deaths reported during the first wave is much higher than the second wave.


Showing results

110 of 5861

close
1.14212