Even in the hurry-up-and-wait, sometimes frantic atmosphere in the Labor and Delivery department, Kinsey Close is the sort of registered clinical nurse who makes an impression in just a shift or two.
Grateful patient Katie Thomas gave Close a shoutout a couple of years after the nurse tended to her at WellStar Cobb Hospital. She said Close's approach to handling a difficult delivery helped her persevere, and she recalls the nurse's dedication and "huge smile" like it was yesterday.
Thomas and her husband had a bumpy path to delivery, starting with three rounds of in vitro fertilization before receiving the "amazing news" that she was pregnant. "I had a relatively unexciting pregnancy but given the road we had traveled to become pregnant, I was constantly anxious about the health of my unborn child," Thomas recalled.
She hit another snag when she couldn't be induced at the hospital where she'd been planning to deliver all along, unexpectedly arriving at WellStar Cobb. "Upon checking in, Kinsey was there to greet me with a huge smile and welcoming heart," Thomas remembered. "She immediately helped ease our anxiety about several issues – a new facility, a new physician, but most of all, some serious health issues that were identified with my initial workup and bloodwork. It became evident that I had developed severe pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome."
Close, who works part time, was her day shift nurse over two days that were "confusing, emotional, worrisome and exhausting," Thomas said. "I was put on magnesium sulfate to avoid having seizures, which significantly complicated my labor. My blood pressure bottomed out twice and I needed additional drugs to elevate my heart rate. The whole time Kinsey was by my side, explaining what was going on, comforting me and my husband and providing exceptional patient care."
The baby, Jack, was delivered at 7:39 p.m., after Close's nursing shift had ended. But she had stayed on after clocking out to try to be there for the birth. "We had chosen to not know the gender of the child, so she was just as anxious to learn if we would have a healthy girl or boy," Thomas remembered.
When the labor and delivery complications resulted in Thomas staying in the hospital three days after delivering, and her son spending 11 days in neonatal intensive care, Close made a special trip to the hospital to check up on Thomas and her husband and son. "I was so flattered and overwhelmed by her kindness and thoughtfulness – it brought me to tears," Thomas said. "It is hard to convey the impact that Kinsey and other nurses had on my experience. The birth of my first child did not go at all like we had planned. It was much more complicated than we ever anticipated and required a lot more medical intervention than we would have ever dreamt. Without Kinsey’s impressive skills, calm demeanor, and most of all huge heart – it would have been even more trying."
Close is a Georgia native who has worked as a nurse for 11 years, the first two in the emergency department at Kennestone and the past nine in L&D at Cobb. She graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor's in Health Promotion and Behavior before completing the Accelerated Nursing Program at Kennesaw State University. Determined to be a "Dawg," she planned her nursing education around that goal. "I knew I wanted to be a nurse as I was in my early years at UGA. Unfortunately, UGA didn’t offer a nursing program, so I decided to earn a degree that was compatible with my prerequisites for nursing school. I felt strongly about having a degree from UGA! The accelerated program was fairly new when I was in college, so that was my plan and I stuck to it."
The very traits that Thomas admires are what make Close happy that she’s an L&D nurse. "I love being able to help and put patients at ease," she said. "Whether that is encouragement through their progression in labor, educating them in triage or being the cheerleader while pushing. I also feel a sense of satisfaction being the person who can offer comfort when things don’t go as planned, like when labor fails and we rush back for a C-section and I catch the sigh of relief when they see my familiar face in the operating room. Or, during the sad outcomes sharing so many emotions together. It is just so special to be a part of such a special moment in people’s lives."
The mother of three, Close also appreciates the flexibility she has as a career nurse. "I like my part time gig!" she said. "I get to work and stay up to date with the real world and also have lots of family time and get to participate in my kids’ school and after-school activities."
But even at her level of experience, she still works plenty of weekends and holidays. "There are pros and cons with every position," she affirmed. "Although us nurses have to work these special days, which can be very hard with young children, we also have lots of days off to participate in activities during the week that other working parents don’t get."
And because she attends patients in the throes of labor and delivery, she encounters stark realities she can't control, only cope with. "I wish there were never any 'bad' outcomes," she said soberly. "I wish everyone received a healthy baby at the end of the race in any way, shape or form."
Part of the job is picking yourself up and getting back to work the next shift after a dark day on the ward. "This can be very tough at times," Close admitted. "A good night's sleep usually helps. As much as I dread coming back to work after a horrible shift, I also end up finding relief in it. Sometimes, other nurses are the only ones who truly understand what you're going through. Spouses, friends and family try to understand but don’t truly get it."
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism. AJC.com. Atlanta. News. Now.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.
With the largest team in the state, the AJC reports what’s really going on with your tax dollars and your elected officials. Subscribe today. Visit the AJC's Georgia Navigator for the latest in Georgia politics.
Your subscription to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism. Visit the AJC's Georgia Navigator for the latest in Georgia politics.
More from AJC Pulse
CONTINUING COVERAGE: CORONAVIRUS