On The Frontline: Patricia McGahan, RN, CBN | FairfieldMoms

During these unprecedented times, there is no one more vulnerable than the men and women who are working on the frontlines.  Whether you are a Doctor, a Nurse, a Healthcare practitioner, working as an EMT, Police Officer, Fire Fighter…they are putting their lives before anything else to help take care and save so many people who have come in contact with COVID-19.  One women in particular, Patricia McGahan, who is very close friend of ours, agreed to let us ask her a few questions about her job as a Nurse Manager, and what she is seeing first hand at Bridgeport Hospital, how she is handling work / life balance as a mom and how we can help.  We wanted to share her story with all of you, to help you grasp the magnitude of what is going on around you, and to help you understand how important it is to STAY HOME to SAVE LIVES.


What do you do for a living / what is your role at Bridgeport Hospital?

I am the Nurse Manager of Major Surgery and Pulmonary Medicine at Yale New Haven Health, Bridgeport Hospital.  I oversee the day-to-day operations of the departments and have clinical nursing oversight.


How / why did you get into this field and how long have you been with Bridgeport Hospital?

I grew up wanting to be a nurse.  I was a “candy striper” as a young girl, my favorite book was “Jennie Goes to the Hospital”, and I ALWAYS admired my school nurses and tried to spend as much time in the nurse’s office as possible!

Yale New Haven Health – Bridgeport Hospital was where I took my first nursing job in 2010 – working as a night nurse on an orthopedic unit.  I was fortunate to work for a Nurse Manager who saw leadership abilities in me and encouraged and fostered my growth – she is still my mentor today!  This, coupled with working for an organization that truly supports growth, has allowed me to grow in my professional roles.


What do you love about this field and the people who you work with?

It’s all about the patients.  Everything we do, every decision we make has the patient at the center.  The patient-centered philosophy is something senior leadership has embedded into our culture.  It serves as a beacon for all we do.

What I’ve always loved about healthcare is that is strips us down to what truly matters – kindness, compassion, integrity are what make you standout and what is valued by patients, families, and colleagues.  Material things don’t matter in healthcare – kindness does.  I love that.


What are you fears about the COVID-19 pandemic in our town?

It’s important to not let fear overtake us.  “Informed” and “cautious” are what I’m trying to live by and what I’m asking my friends and family to follow as well.  Our town leaders have been upfront and clear in communicating the seriousness of this pandemic to citizens and I think we’re fortunate for that.  That being said, we cannot lose sight of the long-road ahead.  We must continue to accept the disruption and challenges made to our daily lives to better our future.


How is your staff holding up?

The staff is amazing!  They are creative, upbeat, and doing whatever they need to do to save the most lives.  They are concerned about their parents and also each other.  The display of mutual support and compassion is truly uplifting – they keep each other going.


What is an average day for you now, compared to what it was a month ago, 2 months ago?

Things are NOT “business-as-usual”.  Every single individual who works in any capacity of Health Care is being asked to do things we never thought before possible and everyone is rising to the occasion.  We are trusting in our teams – in our thoughts, actions, decisions, and again, looking to patient-centeredness to get things down right and fast!  The Yale New Haven Health System, from the New York border to Rhode Island, is sharing resources, staff, knowledge, and ideas in a fluid manner all with one goal and one mission – save our communities and protect our Health Care workers.


How has your life changed since this pandemic has started?

I, like thousands of Health Care workers, have been called to put all of myself into fighting this pandemic.  This is the focus.  It’s hard to answer this question because it feels like every aspect of my life has changed.  My biggest take-away that we’re all capable of so much more than we realize.  When given the opportunity, everyone can do incredible things – both big and small and the impact of those actions can have profound influence.



How are you handling work / life / mom balance during this difficult time?

I’ll never forget what a friend once said when I was on maternity leave – “the days are long, the weeks are short”.  The days are long, but the time is flying by.  Balancing it all right now is not possible and I’m acknowledging that.  I’m relying on my husband to do everything and he truly is doing it all.  I’m relying on my friends and family to virtually check-in on him and my son when I’m at the hospital for long hours day after day.  And they do.  I’m forgiving myself for the things I’m not doing and reminding myself of all the things I am.  Patience and gratitude.


What is your advice for people not taking the social distancing seriously?

This one is short and simple – YOU MUST.


How can we help using our platform to get the word out?  What is desperately needed to help support our local hospitals?

The community and our nation have rallied around Health Care workers and we need you to keep this up.  We have a long road ahead and when it is over, our Healthcare workers will only then begin to process their own emotions.  What we’re seeing and what we’re doing is unprecedented.  We need your kindness.  We need you to listen to high-quality sources and follow what they are asking.  We need you to do your part while we do ours.  Stay home.  Wash your hands.


One of our leaders ends her meetings with a quote I will steal…Be Wise and Be Well!


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