Thrive by IU Health

December 02, 2020

She cares for patients with COVID and carries on her mother’s legacy

IU Health University Hospital

She cares for patients with COVID and carries on her mother’s legacy

Her mother worked for IU Health, and for two decades this nurse has followed in her footsteps.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes, tfender1@iuhealth.org

Resting her tired feet in a lounge on the sixth floor of IU Health University Hospital April Hendrickson motions to a corner of the room. She pulls up a picture on her phone of a little girl sitting in the lounge with a nurse. The little girl is Hendrickson. The nurse is her mother, Bobbie Hendrickson.

For 20 years April Hendrickson has worked at IU Health University and Methodist Hospitals. On this day she is working in the same department – Krannert Pavilion – that her mother worked in as a nurse. Bobbie Hendrickson died Dec. 4, 2009. And although it’s been 11 years this week since she lost her mother, April Hendrickson feels a little bit of her nurturing spirit when she walks the sixth floor halls – following in her mother’s footsteps.

“When I was a little girl my dad used to bring us up here on Easter to visit my mom during her 12-hour shift,” said the Daisy-Award nominee. “Every time I came up her I’d see the nurses in their starched white uniforms and it left a lasting impression on me. They all talked about what a great nurse my mom was,” she added. Hendrickson graduated from Warren Central High School and obtained her nursing degree from IU Bloomington.

She often wonders what her mom would think if she could see her daughter caring for the sickest patients now – many fighting COVID-19. She estimates she’s cared for several dozen patients with the virus.

“At first I was nervous and then I talked to my pastor about my anxieties and I remember him telling me that those patients deserve as good as care as anyone else. It really stuck with me and I realized quickly that there are so many details to pay attention to – especially because they don’t have families visiting,” said Hendrickson.

“I’ve been at the bedside of a man in his 90s, a woman in her 50s and many others. I’ve seen their pain. One man was so scared and crying because he had done everything he could not to get COVID but as his oxygen requirements kept going up, I realized the most important thing I could do was offer him emotional support,” said Hendrickson.

The virus has forever changed the face of her profession. And even before the pandemic, Hendrickson said nursing is different for her than it was for her mother. It is constantly evolving.

“I think we have more emphasis on prevention – falls and skin infections and such – and we scan medicines now. We used to count narcotics at the end of our shift and now we have Pyxis,” said Hendrickson, referring to the medical cart that maintains the drug inventory. “So much is computerized. It makes it easier to read the physician’s signature and streamlines a lot of the charting.”

Especially with the increase in severely ill patients, Hendrickson said she is thankful for those medical advances.

“COVID has changed everything. We’re all gowned up so patients can’t see us as the person we are. The elderly patients who are hard of hearing can’t see my lips,” said Hendrickson. “It makes me sad and when I leave I can’t go the gym or to church so I dance to videos to try help me unwind,” she added.

“At the end of the day, I’m no longer scared; I’m mindful. I don’t want to take risks and yet I want to be present,” she said. “More often than not when I ask a patient how they are feeling the answer is, ‘I’m lonely.”

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