Shania Brackenbury and Chad Geisinger
Two Nurses are Heroes on the Front Lines During Crisis
By Dan Fagan
In the age of the Covid-19 pandemic, millions of healthcare workers around the United States are working around the clock and in harm’s way as they come to the aid of their patients. Two Dakota College at Bottineau graduates, Shania Brackenbury and Chad Geisinger, are among these everyday heroes on the Covid-19 front lines.
Brackenbury, who completed her bachelor’s degree in nursing after completing DCB’s two-year program, is currently a registered nurse on the Maternity/Women’s unit at CHI St. Alexius in Bismarck.
“I had a great experience with the DCB nursing program,” Brackenbury said. “The instructors were great, it was very hands on, and I never felt like I was just a number in the classroom. With the class sizes being smaller the teachers had the ability to be more hands on in the classroom and at clinicals.”
While Brackenbury enrolled in the DCB nursing program straight out of high school, Geisinger worked as a paramedic for fourteen years before deciding to attend DCB.
“By becoming a nurse it allows me to expand my role as a health care provider and work in all different areas of medicine,” Geisinger said.
After completing his associate degree in nursing at DCB, Geisinger successfully passed the National Council State Boards of Nursing Examination and was licensed as a registered nurse. He then decided to further his nursing education and attended the University of Phoenix where he completed his bachelor’s degree.
“There is a difference in the skill set and knowledge base of a paramedic and RN,” Geisinger said. “The DCB nursing program helped provide me with the knowledge and process which allowed me to safely care for patients as a nurse.”
Geisinger currently works in the intensive care unit at Trinity Health in Minot. After being in the ICU for a year-and-a-half, his position was expanded to charge nurse which allows him to work extensively with patients recovering from open heart surgery.
For both Brackenbury and Geisinger, the opportunity to help people at their most vulnerable is one of the most rewarding parts of the job but often one of the most challenging.
Brackenbury often deals with newborns who need extra attention or are sick, such as caring for infants withdrawing from tobacco or drugs due to use during the pregnancy.
“Your heart breaks seeing a newborn go through withdrawal, but you also need to be there supporting and educating the mother through all ways possible,” Brackenbury said.
Covid-19 has presented an unprecedented set of challenges and concerns for nurses. According to Geisinger, the Covid-19 pandemic has changed everyone that works in healthcare. Particularly the fear of the unknown and shortages of personal protective equipment.
“Luckily at the facility where I work, we have certain guidelines that explain when certain pieces of personal equipment should and shouldn’t be used,” Geisinger said. “Not only does this help protect all staff coming into contact with suspected Covid-19 patients, but also patients who have been confirmed with Covid-19. We have also implemented specialized equipment and rooms that have been utilized for care for Covid-19 suspected and confirmed patients.”
Brackenbury has seen substantial policy changes as well, especially when it comes to handling newborns. The protocols change often, sometimes on a daily basis. Patients are now being tested before they come in for a delivery or surgery, or in the event of an unexpected delivery they are tested when they arrive.
“Another challenge we face is making sure that our patients are comfortable,” Brackenbury said. “Covid-19 is scary, and it give patients lots of anxiety to even be in the hospital with a pandemic going on. We have to stay on top of all the changing policies and protocols regarding Covid-19 to keep anxiety levels in the patients down and to help ensure them that they are receiving the best care possible.”
While the reality of living through the Covid-19 pandemic is stressful, the courage and commitment of healthcare workers like Brackenbury and Geisinger offer a shining light of hope and inspiration in a time of uncertainty. They are heroes on the front line.