Nurse Shelly Campbell Cook with co-worker in Neuro ICU

Calm in the storm

Shelby Campbell Cook talks with another nurse on the Neuro Intensive Care Unit, discussing the status of several patients in their care as they prepare for the night ahead. They joke a little, and grow solemn as they discuss one patient in particular.

A nurse’s regular shift combines strictly regimented routine with the unexpected twists and turns of patient care. That’s especially apparent in the Neuro ICU.

“I see these things throughout the week, these terrible, sad events, but also these wonderful miracles and these wonderful stories,” Shelby said.

Each month, the Neuro ICU treats over 60 patients, all of whom are suffering from a traumatic injury to their spine, brain and nervous system. The 10-bed unit is run with precision by registered nurses, clinical nurse educators and other caregivers who have expertise in neurology and neurosurgery care.

“Neuro ICU is the first ward I ever worked in,” Shelby said. “I really wanted to be a part of that, and try to bring peace and a calm in the storm and help patients and families through this hard time in their life.”

Shelby chose nursing in her third year of college after witnessing the care her own father received during a hospital stay. She graduated as an RN from the Mary Black School of Nursing at USC-Upstate.

“I fell into nursing,” Shelby said. “The hands-on aspect with bedside patient care just grabbed my heart.”

The trauma that landed a person in the Neuro ICU is the worst emergency that most families will ever experience, Shelby said. These patients and their families feel scared and helpless. The patients might not be able to talk, and they might not remember from moment to moment where they are, or even who they are.

Shelby and her fellow nurses combine excellent medical care with a soothing, calming presence. 

“I tell them they’re safe,” Shelby said. “They have a great healthcare team taking care of them, and we will get through it together. And everything we’re doing is for that patient and what they want.”

“I’m very proud to be a part of Spartanburg Regional, because of the sense of community – RNs, occupational therapists, nutritionists, environmental services, maintenance … everyone is so positive,” Shelby said. “People say hello in the hall. They smile. You get to know people. We all uplift each other, and we’re proud to be part of a Level I Trauma Center. I love being a part of this team.”

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