Shea Davenport, a critical care nurse at the Mid Coast Hospital ICU, with a therapy dog, Chick. Courtesy Shea Davenport

Editor’s note: This story was published in recognition of National Nurse’s Day, Wednesday, May 6.

BRUNSWICK — As a critical care nurse treating COVID-19 patients at Mid Coast Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit, Shea Davenport faces unprecedented challenges.

“We do not yet know the best way to effectively treat these patients. When severe, COVID-19 wreaks havoc on the body in ways we have not seen before,” Davenport said.

There’s also more to the disease than just the virus itself, he said. Aggressive protection measures brought on by the pandemic, including barring all hospital visitors, can take a mental toll on patients.

“It’s tough because you know that (the patients) definitely must feel very isolated. They (have) people coming in completely covered in all of this protective equipment … so you just try to make the most of every interaction with them,” he said.

Mid Coast has provided Davenport’s unit with iPads for patients to video chat with their families. The first time he helped a patient connect with their family, he was touched when the family expressed to him how thankful they were.

“(It) was definitely something that brought forth some emotion and just (was) another reason to feel proud of what I do,” he said.

Morgan Moores, nurse director of the ICU and Davenport’s supervisor, said he regularly goes “above and beyond.” He comes to work early so he can research his patients and better connect with them during his shift, she said.

“Nurses like Shea want to holistically interact with (patients),” added Moores, who hired Davenport last year.

When the 25-year-old Thomaston resident began his undergraduate studies at the University of Maine, he didn’t plan on becoming a nurse. But after feeling unfulfilled in his other courses of study, he realized that nursing was the right path for him.

“(There is) really no greater feeling than being able to make a positive impact in someone else’s life,” Davenport said in a phone interview on Sunday. “There’s so much room for growth in the nursing field, it’s infinite … I gave it a shot and I loved it. And I’m really happy I did.”

Davenport graduated from the University of Southern Maine in the spring of 2019. He started in critical care, something he said he became passionate about during his undergraduate studies.

“You get to know patients very well. You get to know the families very well. Someone in the ICU is in a very vulnerable time in their life and to be able to support them, their families, through such a difficult time, it’s very fulfilling at the end of the day,” he said.

He began a six-month orientation for the residency program at the Brunswick hospital’s Intensive Care Unit and finished the orientation at the beginning of this year.

 

Davenport’s mother, Barbie Jones, said one of his strengths is the ability to balance his empathy with realism.

“He wants the best for (his patients) … but at the same time, he is very realistic about it and knows that you have to look at your patients as patients (as well) as somebody you care about,” said Jones. “He can do both things. He can be on both sides of the fence.”

She said she is “incredibly proud,” that her son decided to pursue nursing.

“I think it’s 100% the right place for him,” she said.

One of the biggest challenges Davenport said he’s faced in his year has been adjusting to the fast-pace that being a critical care nurse demands. The job can be physically, emotionally and mentally draining but staying active and spending time with his family and friends helps him feel balanced, he said.

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