During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the constant sound of sirens filled the streets of New York City and the surrounding communities, Memorial Sloan Kettering Deputy Chief Nurse Kevin Browne found himself in a somewhat unfamiliar place: in the back of an ambulance headed to MSK—this time as a patient.
Five days earlier, Kevin had begun to experience the onset of symptoms consistent with the virus that was ravaging his city. It started with the loss of smell and taste, followed by headaches, and a shortness of breath. Initially, he assumed his longer than normal work days were starting to catch up with him. After all, Kevin played a key role in MSK’s Hospital Incident Command System, a robust group of administrative and clinical staff who were responsible for planning MSK’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kevin had a seat at the decision-making table during this most unprecedented time.
When Kevin arrived at MSK’s Urgent Care Center in late-March, he was met by his nursing colleagues, including several he knew from his early days as a nurse manager in the critical care unit. His team was there to take care of their beloved boss when he needed them most.
In a compelling segment on NBC’s Today show, Kevin described becoming a patient in his own hospital and being cared for by the team he had mentored. In a one-on-one interview with co-host Hoda Kotb, Kevin said, “I could only see their eyes and their eyes were not telling me the story of fear, but I knew deep down they were fearful…but once they were in the room, they were all present, game on, and they were there for me.”
Kevin’s experience epitomizes the MSK spirit and showcases the vital and powerful role nurses play in MSK patients’ lives every day. “I ran down there, and saw him through the glass…I sat on the edge of the bed, I held his hand, rubbed his heart, and we even at one point connected forehead to forehead,” recalled nurse leader Andrew Graham.
“There are no words” said Kevin. “You just thank God there are people like this in the world who choose these professions…to want to run toward a pandemic as opposed to running away from a pandemic.”
After nearly 21 weeks of convalescence and recovery, including intensive physical therapy multiple days per week, Kevin returned to work and rejoined his MSK family. The entire MSK community is thrilled that he is healthy, thriving, and back to doing what he loves most.
View the Today feature here.