White Coat Notes

Readers applaud Beth Israel Deaconess nurses who healed bombing suspect

I wrote in Sunday’s Globe about nine trauma nurses at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center who played a very private but critical role in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing: They cared for gravely wounded suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in a heavily-guarded ICU, nursing him back to health.

The nurses are proud of doing their job and doing it well under trying circumstances—they said treating all patients, no matter who they are, is part of their code of ethics. But they were scared about how the public would react—“Would they hate me, or would they thank me?” one asked.

It didn’t take long to find out. Heartfelt e-mails have been pouring in from readers across the country, commending and thanking the nurses. I have received more than 35 so far—a lot for one story—and they are still arriving in my inbox. (Readers commenting online on BostonGlobe.com also have showed tremendous appreciation.)

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Wrote nurse Diane Vaccarino:

As a nurse I was curious about how they were handling this difficult situation and could only imagine the internal turmoil they were facing. My mother was a WW2 nurse and had to care for German prisoners of war – and her own brother had been killed overseas in the Battle of the Bulge. I always admired her ability to “transcend” and do what needed to be done.

Readers said they were deeply moved by the nurses’ story and found their actions healing.

I feel it brought me a new sense of peace regarding the Boston Marathon bombings. It is amazing to me to feel the incredible struggle those nurses have gone through in caring for Tsarnaev, and I feel an inspiring sense of compassion for everyone involved in this tragedy, wrote Cassie Brady.

David Ryan, Principal of Nashua High School North in New Hampshire, commented that there are many professions in which the ethical duty of the role far outweighs the emotional and personal wants of the person in it. (The perspective) of the team of trauma nurses helps me build more confidence in doing what is right regardless of a personal agenda.

Many readers wanted me to thank the nurses for them. I will forward these e-mails to a hospital administrator, who said she will share them with the trauma nurses who treated the suspected terrorist.

The seven nurses who I interviewed did not want to be identified—although some agreed to use middle names—because they were afraid of the reaction from some members of the public, particularly after the disruptive protests at a Worcester funeral home that arranged the burial of Tsarnaev’s brother.

I hope these e-mails from readers will put them more at ease.

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