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Minnesota Nurse Uses Poetry To Cope With The Pandemic

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Doctors and nurses, overwhelmed and exhausted, are trying to come to terms with the loss of life in this pandemic. In Minnesota, one registered nurse has turned to poetry.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Reading) Gown, mask, goggles, gloves. I enter your mother's room, the room where she will take her last breath.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Erin Pommeranz authored this piece called "COVID-19." She works for Allina Health in Eden Prairie, which is just outside of Minneapolis. And people in her workplace decided to turn the poem into a video.

ERIN POMMERANZ: This poem was based on my first COVID patient. And saying goodbye to the family over the phone was really impactful for me. So I just needed a way to get it out.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Reading) It's not fair, you say through tears. I agree, my tears and breath clouding the goggles. A stranger with purple gloves on holds your mother's hands in her final moments, not her son of 63 years.

GREENE: Erin is a hospice nurse. And so helping others with end of life is what she does. But she says the pandemic has changed even that.

POMMERANZ: The most sacred part of my job is to be at the bedside of an actively dying person and to be surrounded by family. And that is a great part of that grief process. And it's a type of therapy that is no longer happening.

INSKEEP: She hopes her words about this bleak moment reveal resilience and strength.

POMMERANZ: I have two little boys. And I hope they can look back or, you know, my grandchildren look back and say, my mom or my grandma was working during this pandemic. And she did a great job. And the health care workers did a great job.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Reading) Deep breath. I push the small red circle, and we disconnect. Remove gloves, goggles, mask, gown.

INSKEEP: The poem "COVID-19" by registered nurse Erin Pommeranz.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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