Ms. Londay: Emerging from the Emergency Room
BY ELLA MARRIOTT AND DAISY ZUCKERMAN
Born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, Bridget Londay is now a health teacher here at Packer. While sitting in her cozy health office, Ms. Londay discussed, with a smile, her drive to contribute to world of health and described a time when she put herself in a very difficult and life changing experience which she said had “deeply shaped her stance on global health issues today.”
Although Ms. Londay originally attended the University of Nebraska for architecture, she decided that she wanted a change of pace in her career. She had the desire to “work more with people.” Funnily enough, she was inspired by a show called “ER,” filmed at a hospital in Chicago, Illinois. She went to the nursing office on campus and began working toward earning her nursing degree.
“I was living in Omaha; my brother had recently moved to Chicago, and I wanted to move [there] as well. On a visit to Chicago, I was looking for emergency room jobs and there was an ad,” said Ms. Londay. “My brother knew somebody who worked in this emergency room on the South Side of Chicago, and they said, ’we’re always looking for new nurses.’ And so I went and I met with the director of the emergency room, and they hired me before I even graduated.”
After finishing her finals at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, at age 21, Ms. Londay missed her graduation to fly down to Chicago to begin working at the hospital.
Most of those who Ms. Londay saw in the ER were “sick kids who should’ve been seen long before they were finally seen in the ER. There was a lot of gang violence, and there was a high homeless population, so we had a lot of substance abuse issues as well,” said Ms. Londay.
Every day at work, Ms. Londay witnessed so many horrifying incidents that they did not even surprise her anymore. However, she had “a pretty defining experience,” which took place during one of her shifts. Ms. Londay had spent the whole night operating on a four-year-old girl, who unfortunately passed away. Ms. Londay, so devastated by the situation, ran outside and began to cry. Shortly after, a fellow nurse who had been working in the ER for ages came out and asked her why she was crying. Ms. Londay told him why, and the nurse said: “You’re either going to have to think of it as science, or find another job.” As she said this, Ms. Londay had a look of neutral reflection. So, after thinking about it for a long time, Ms. Londay quit her job and went on a hunt for a new one, knowing that she couldn’t handle the emotional rollercoaster that the emergency room presented. Some of her health students were in awe after hearing her describe her past, and they developed a significant amount of respect for her.
Later, she acquired her Master’s Degree in public health at New York University. She decided that instead of working in the ER, she wanted to work in the field of health education. “When I finished my Master’s, I traveled around the world for four months [and] I studied abroad in South Africa and Kenya,” said Ms. Londay. “And even before that, when I was [working in the] ER, I went and did work in Quito, Ecuador.” While discussing her reasons for transferring to a more educational setting, Ms. Londay said: “I don’t want to treat these problems, I want to help people make better decisions to prevent them.”
After all of these life-altering experiences, Ms. Londay has ended up at Packer. She said that Packer was a good fit for her because it is “globally focused” and “encourages critical thinking and good decision-making.” She appreciates the intensive health curriculum (especially of the tenth grade) and teaches students about how “little decisions affect your health in the long run.” Ms. Londay, after moving around a lot, says: “for now, I’m just happy to be in one place for a while.”