For more than a decade, registered nurse Kristy Morley has proudly served Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center as a labor and delivery nurse. While Kristy says she takes great pride in her work and is honored to “be present as a new life is born and bear witness to that wonder alongside families,” she is most passionate about teaching fellow teammates and nursing students the special skills needed to support patients and their loved ones in times of devastating loss.
Recently honored as one of Atrium Health’s rising Nursing Stars, Kristy has shown true leadership among her peers in the area of bereavement care. When she’s not caring for patients at the bedside, Kristy dedicates much of her time to the Perinatal Loss Committee and teaching an OB Core Perinatal Loss course to new teammates joining Atrium Health Women’s Care, an important responsibility she shares with her colleague and friend, RN April Keever.
Tasked with developing a new curriculum specific to Perinatal Loss in 2020, Kristy has since developed classes offered to new Atrium Health teammates across the entire health system. “As nurses and providers, we are meeting patients at their most vulnerable, when the landscape of their lives has been forever altered,” shared Kristy.
The curriculum developed by Kristy and her colleagues emphasizes the importance of being present with patients and their families, fully acknowledging their grief before it can be eased. Knowing the impact these moments of loss and trauma can have on care providers as well, Kristy recently partnered with colleagues to transform a former office space into a bereavement room for the benefit of patients, caregivers, and nurses alike.
“As we teach our students to hold space for their patients, we also desire for this space to be a place where our nurses can pause, breathe, and be held,” Kristy explained.
The bereavement room is equipped with resources to bring calm and peace, such as a diffuser, mindfulness exercises, blankets, and even local artwork commissioned for the space – including a beautiful design incorporating a butterfly the color purple, and waves to symbolize perinatal loss and grief.
For Kristy, people come first. “Yes, there are many tasks as a nurse that we must complete,” Kristy acknowledged, “but it is vital that we remember that we care for people with stories, some of whom are carrying deep pain and suffering. This is my passion.”
Ever mindful of Atrium Health’s ‘for all’ mission, Kristy expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to work alongside her nursing colleagues who continually advocate for patients’ needs, while also rallying around each other in times of crisis. She hopes to see the Atrium Health Nursing Fund continue to receive support from the community, so that initiatives such as the Perinatal Loss curriculum and bereavement center can continue to flourish.
For more information and to support the Atrium Health Nursing Fund, visit AtriumHealthFoundation.org/Nurses.