Resolution: How to Be Resilient

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Mark Labrayere, a respiratory-care practitioner, has been a beacon of resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic. He credits his support system, as well as the hospital he works for, in helping him through the tough times. - COURTESY OF SSM HEALTH DEPAUL HOSPITAL
  • Courtesy of SSM Health DePaul Hospital
  • Mark Labrayere, a respiratory-care practitioner, has been a beacon of resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic. He credits his support system, as well as the hospital he works for, in helping him through the tough times.

Welcome to the Riverfront Times’ Five Days of Resolutions. Start living right.

In the spring of 2020, Mark Labrayere was just trying to keep his head above water. As a respiratory-care practitioner at SSM Health DePaul Hospital, he was on the front lines along with his coworkers as COVID-19 swept across the world, taking it day by day while trying to understand how to treat the deadly virus. Since those early days, the pandemic has claimed over 15,000 lives in Missouri, and Labrayere has felt the weight of that with his own patients. He describes what it was like those first few months, a nurse and himself in the room, holding the patient’s hand as they took their last breath so they wouldn’t die alone.

As the crisis rages on, Labrayere remembers the words his mother told him fourteen years ago when he went into health care: “It's OK to be sad. God made people to be teachers, to do this or that, but he made you to do this. You get your five minutes, but there’s people that need you, so get back in there and do what God made you to do.”



“That's the biggest thing for me,” Labrayere explains in an interview with the RFT. “It’s OK to be sad, for the families and for the people that we’ve lost, but we also have to be able to bounce back to help the next one. It's tough to walk out of the room after pulling a breathing tube out and walk into the next room with a smile on my face, but the patient’s room I'm going into, they deserve the best of what we got.”

In order to piece that resilience together, Labrayere explains there are two parts: leaning on your support system and remembering why you’re passionate about what you’re doing. For the support system, he says it’s important to not be scared of asking for help from those around you. Remembering your purpose is as easy as asking yourself why you’re doing what you are — is it because of money? Is it passion? Or love?



Brenn Lemon, a nurse manager for the oncology-hematology unit at Mercy St. Louis, agrees with Labrayere, saying it’s important to reflect inward to measure how you’re doing. Lemon says COVID-19 has affected her unit through nurse and patient morale, since safety measures make it harder to celebrate things like her coworkers’ birthdays or for patients to have visitors. She’s become flexible the past year, finding ways to celebrate her nurses through cards and affirmations, while she’s working to connect with patients. Flexibility has been key in building her resilience, as well as celebrating small wins, whether it’s a new coffee creamer or something you find motivating.

“I think that’s what I would encourage someone to do,” Lemon says. “Take that step back and look at your challenges and find what your passion is and then put that back into the task. I think that really builds your resilience.”

Labrayere echoes her, saying it’s your passion that will push you forward. But, he also would add one thing: “Resilience is not going to happen on its own. We need each other.”
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