Rachel Bunde

September 21, 2023
A photo of Rachel Bunde
Rachel Bunde

Seeking a fresh outlook

A doctor had strict orders for the patient. She had to lie on her side, and the head of the bed could not be raised more than 30 degrees.

Imagine being in that position for more than a month.

Nurse Rachel Bunde, who was taking care of the patient on the surgical trauma unit at UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies, wondered often about what that must be like for her patient.

“With any of my patients, I try to put myself in their shoes,” Bunde said. “And I just couldn’t imagine having to be in the hospital for that long and not being able to go outside.”

For Bunde, being outside, breathing in fresh air and basking in the sunshine benefits her mental and physical health. She wanted the same for her patient. And she had an idea.

If possible, with the doctor and the patient’s permission, could she take her patient outside to the fifth floor observation deck? Could she give her patient a glimpse of the sky and a little fresh air?

The patient loved the idea, and Bunde continued to advocate for her. Bunde sought the necessary approvals and planned the logistics to give the patient a break from her hospital room.

Bunde received approval from the provider, who wrote an order requiring the patient to maintain the strict positioning orders throughout the transport. Bunde tracked down the right equipment and obtained a stretcher from another department. She mapped out a specific route that would fit the stretcher, and she planned for coverage while she was on the observation deck with the patient.

Around 2 o’clock in the afternoon, on a gorgeous sunny day and a light breeze in the air, Bunde took her patient outside. The patient’s eyes filled with joyful tears.

“Just seeing her light up when we went outside, it really meant a lot,” Bunde said.

For 30 minutes, the patient basked in the glory that is the Colorado outdoors.

“Rachel was able to take the patient outside for some fresh air and sunshine, which completely lifted the patient’s spirits,” said colleague Shelby Hegdal who recognized Bunde through Celebrating You.

“It was a lot of little things coming together,” Bunde said. “And everything came together perfectly.”

Teamwork was essential to making the transport successful, and Bunde credits her colleagues for helping to make it happen.

“My teammates were super helpful,” Bunde said. “As soon as we got the okay to do it, they asked what they could do to help me. They helped me get her there and looked after my other patients while I took her off the unit. It really couldn’t have been done without the doctors and all of my team.”

Originally from South Dakota, Bunde moved to Colorado to follow her love for the mountains and nature. She has been a nurse for 10 years and has been on the trauma surgical unit for one year.

“I feel like I make a difference here, and we all see each other as an important piece to the puzzle to make this unit really work,” Bunde said. “To be there for all of our patients and go the extra mile, it makes for a really good environment. Everybody helps each other out.”

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About the author

Christine Freer joined UCHealth as a communications specialist in 2022. Prior to joining UCHealth, Freer served as the lead public information officer at the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County. She spent the last 11 years working in public health, program management, and health care marketing and communications. Freer earned a Bachelor of Arts in public health promotion from Purdue University and a Master of Public Health in social marketing from the University of South Florida. She lives in Colorado Springs with her husband, Jim, and their German shepherd, Lincoln.