What It Was Like to Care for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

Inside 9 nurses' very tough 6 days with the suspected bomber

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted May 20, 2013 8:13 AM CDT

(Newser) – Nine trauma nurses at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center were asked to care for suspected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev—and though many were uncomfortable with the idea, all of them agreed. The Boston Globe walks us through the six days they spent with Tsarnaev, from the four checkpoints they had to walk through to get to their patient's room, to the guilt some of them feel for having done a good job. They found themselves treating Tsarnaev differently than other patients—not discussing current events with him, for example—yet they sometimes stumbled into old habits, with one realizing she called him "hon," for instance.

The Globe notes that the nurses referred to Tsarnaev as a "boy," and while some said they felt no sympathy for him, others were more conflicted: "You see a hurt 19-year-old and you can’t help but feel sorry for him," says one of the nurses. But at the same time, the nurse continues, she "would not be upset if he got the death penalty. There is no way to reconcile the two different feelings." Though details of Tsarnaev's specific treatment are shielded by privacy laws, during their 12-hour shifts the nurses would have given him typical ICU care: checking wounds, asking about pain, monitoring vitals—all with FBI agents stationed in the room. One atypical thing they also did: attended special counseling sessions. Explains another nurse, "When you step away, you take it in. I am compassionate, that’s what we do. But should I be?"

An ambulance carrying Dzhokhar Tsarnaev turns into Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Friday, April 19, 2013.
An ambulance carrying Dzhokhar Tsarnaev turns into Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Friday, April 19, 2013.   (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
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