During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, ICU Nurse Suzanne Strang, RN, often worked seven days a week. Those days sometimes lasted up to 16 hours.
“Sometimes she only had one day off before returning to work for another six or seven day stretch,” said Director of ICU Kirsten Maritim, MSN, BSN, RN, NEA-BC. “One time, she worked 14 days in a row without a day off. That says a lot about her, her commitment and her compassion.”
Because of her tireless devotion, Strang is the recipient of the Salem County Nursing Hero Award presented during the Salem Community College’s Homecoming Event on Sept. 17.
Strang first came to SMC in 1985 directly from Salem Community College where she earned her nursing degree and stayed on as a medical/surgical nurse until 2000.
Strang returned in 2016 as an ICU nurse.
Chief Nursing Officer Ekene Ejimofor, DNP, MSHCM, RN, said Strang took care of the sickest of the sick patients in the ICU during the pandemic, then helped the other nurses with their patients.
“She worked extra shifts for multiple days,” he said. “It just shows the dedication she has, always going the extra mile.”
In Spring 2020, Director of Quality Lynn Righter-Shookla, MSN, BSBA, RN, received a phone call from a family who lost a loved one to COVID-19.
The patient’s family was in Ontario, Canada, and couldn’t get here because of the COVID-19 travel restrictions. Unfortunately, the patient died.
“After she passed, her daughter-in-law called me and said how thankful the family was for the care she received here during her last days,” Shookla said. “She wanted to recognize Suzy for everything she did for the patient and family like Facetiming, making countless calls and being compassionate to all involved. The family felt helpless and Suzy helped to ease their fears.”
Jason Aulffo, PA-C — who works closely with Strang — said for 18 months, during the worst pandemic of our time, Strang worked 60 plus hours a week, communicated with family members — often delivering the worst news possible — and tirelessly cared for her patients.
“She did all of this with a humbling amount of grace and composure,” he said. “She brought comfort to so many people in the most uncertain times. If we asked the patients and families to say who made the biggest difference for them, hands down it would be Suzy and there is no award for how amazing she is.”