Nurse's appeal from intensive care: 'We're exhausted, use your heads'

Laura Berti, the Intensive Care Nurse at the Maggiore Hospital in Bologna (Italy), sent an open letter to all front-line health workers

The thoughts of Laura Berti, Intensive Care Nurse

“Despite our exhaustion, we continue to give the best we can. All we ask of you is to use your heads, to be responsible, to help us get out of this situation (hopefully better, not worse).

This is the heartfelt appeal of Laura Berti, a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit of the Maggiore Hospital in Bologna, who has sent an open letter to all health workers (and others) who have been on the front line against the pandemic for a year and who are under tremendous pressure in these weeks due to the new peak of infections and admissions in Bologna.

A letter was circulated today by the Provincial Order of Nurses of Bologna.


“I dedicate it to us because we are full of scars,’ writes Berti, ‘we have wounds and stretch marks on our souls because patients have died on our hands more often than is humanly bearable.

We have been shattered so many times by ‘our’ patients that we have lost that we no longer have fragments to reattach, our emotions and our souls are now composed of stardust because of how many times we have felt shattered without having the time to metabolize’.

The letter is dedicated to the health workers, continues the nurse at the Maggiore hospital, “because despite the emergencies, the thousands of admissions, the hiccups, the endless shifts in which we come out tired and in pain, we still have the strength to laugh all together.

We joke, not out of disrespect, but because we know the therapeutic power of laughter and, where possible, we try to make the patients laugh too”.

Health workers, Berti continues, see ‘the fear and we hear the trembling voices of patients when they are told they need to be intubated’.

This is another reason why “we continue to hold their hands even when they fall asleep to intubate them and make them breathe better”, continues the nurse, and “we go home trying to think that we will be able to hold their hands again, perhaps transferring them to less critical wards, well aware that we cannot be certain”.

In a nutshell, Berti writes, this letter is ‘dedicated to us who, despite being at the end of our rope, continue to give the best we can.

I dedicate it to us because we will still make videos where we sing and dance, not because there is nothing to do, but precisely because we also need to lighten the weight on our shoulders with something nice”.

And to those outside the hospitals, to the citizens, “we only ask you to use your head, to be responsible, to help us get out of it (possibly better and not worse)”, the nurse from the Maggiore Hospital in Bologna concludes the letter.

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Agenzia Dire

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