Heroes of Healthcare
Heroes of Healthcare

Episode · 1 year ago

Bambū: Bringing Awareness through Medicine by Uniting


Last year, everyday healthcare heroes shipped off to the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Only, in this war, there were no banners, no flags — no symbols of unity.

For many fighting alone in a new, scary setting, that unity could have made a huge difference.

That’s why Christen Roberts, CRNA, Mrs. Georgia American and Founder of Bambū, made it her mission to provide such a symbol to the extraordinary healthcare workers risking their lives to fight for all of us.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • The origin of Bambū
  • How Christen’s message led to her pageant victory
  • How you can help spread Bambū’s message of resilience, hope, and unity.

Heroes of Healthcare is hosted by Ted Weyn.

You're listening to heroes of healthcare, the podcast that highlights bold, selfless professionals in the healthcare industry focused on transforming lives in their communities. Let's get into the show. Welcome to the heroes of healthcare podcast. I'm your host, Ted Wayne. I'm joined today by Kristen Roberts. After competing as a division one cheerleader at the University of Mississippi, Kristen went on to the Medical School of Georgia, where she graduated in two thousand and eight. Serving in critical care, she was accepted into the Hamat School of anesthesia as the youngest in her class at age twenty four. After rigorous years of study, she graduated and credentialed as a Crna, a certified registered nurse anesthesiologist. In Two Thousand and twelve. As an anesthesia provider, Christen has served the country from coast to coast. She has provided care in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Oregon and, of course, in her home state of Georgia. At the onset of covid nineteen, Kristen and her husband, Michael, founded bamboo as a way to unite the country in support of our heroes of healthcare. Completely self funded. They have built this organization from the ground up. They've collaborated to create a movement nationwide as a reminder of appreciation to our providers during these trying times. We're very excited to have Kristen Roberts join us on the heroes of healthcare. Welcome, Christen. Hello, hi, everyone. I'm Christen Roberts, now Miss Georgia, American here to represent all the wonderful nurses and frontline workers of this country and I'm so excited to be on today and to speak with all of you. Well, that's great. Yeah, I want to talk more about the Mrs Georgia part of it, but thanks for being here, thanks for joining us. We're excited to talk more about it. Why don't you tell the listeners? I kind of gave a little bit of an intro before we kicked on here about your background, but why don't you tell the listeners a little bit more? How long have you been a crna and where you currently practicing, and a little bit about your passion of Healthcare? Yeah, so I've been a crna now for nine years. I actually put my first patient to sleep at twenty four years old, which is crazy, but practicing independently. I've been a CRNA for nine years. I've practiced all over the country, up in Rhode Island, Oregon. I'm originally from Mississippi, as I stated before, and now I currently reside in North Georgia and practice at a Gi facility where I currently reside about twenty minutes away from that facility. And then have previously served the hospital right next to the GI center in ob in the past. So I had a passion for babies before this. So but now that I had my own babies, that ob schedule was not very conducive to a mother's lifestyle, with twenty four hour ships and Nice Bekins and holidays right. So now I'm in a great job that gives me the opportunity to spend more time with them. Perfect. That sounds like the best of both worlds for you. So tell us a little bit about your organization, Bamboo. Tell us a little bit about how that came about. What was the spark of the idea? Okay, so that when the pandemic first hit, I found myself on my sofa crying nightly, trying to figure out what it was I wanted to do. And I have a son with severe asthma, who's been hospitalized several times and including down at children's in Atlanta, and but I felt called to go and serve on a nightly basis. I was just torn. I reached out to my family and I felt that my center at the time had shut down and I wanted to go and serve our country and one of the hottest spots there was. So I figured, if I'm going to do it, I'm going to jump in big and I'm going to really do what someone need. And after hearing these nurses were taken on twelve patients at a time and the critical care units, with former I see you experience, I knew that I was stressed out to the Max if I...

...had three patients. So I felt that, you know, this is something that I really wanted to do, and so a friend of mine and I jumped in and we said, hey, we're going to credential and we're going to go up there and we're going to serve. So we did. We fully credential and we're ready to go, but I found myself really having a lot of anxiety and uncertainty still with having committed to that. I couldn't sleep, I was restless, and just uncertain, just kind of going into a war zone of a situation and not really knowing anyone that I was going to be beside and taking care of all these patients. So I kind of started to brainstorm and I thought, what is it that I want to do? You know, I'm putting myself out there, but I want to do something bigger. I want to make us feel united as providers and really give us strength and hope. And we're all in this together, you know, we're stail in the same storm, but we're in different ships. And so, a after a lot of research, I wanted to find a symbol that symbolized strength, unity, optimism, encouragement and resilience, and that symbol happened to be the plant bamboo. Okay, really interesting because when I graduated from Anesthesia School, one of the gifts that our program gave us was a plant of bamboo, and I never remembered that until I got into this whole process and I was like, well, that they actually gave us bamboo as a graduation present because of everything that it stood for. So I did some more brainstorming and thought what could I do to have like a tangible something for these providers to really look down at and remembered, that they're remembered and their thought for and prayed for and that we're all in this together and reunited. And so I came up with the idea of creating a bracelet with actually a piece of bamboo on it. So that's what I did, and then my wheels kept turning in my sleep and I thought, you know what, I could come up with a way to spell bamboo that actually meant something special, and so I spelled it be Ambu, which stands for bringing awareness or medicine by uniting, and so that's kind of how it got started. So we made hundreds of these bracelets, as we plan to go up north to New Jersey, and I was going to pass them out to any and everybody to make us still united. And then, once they started to plateau, we never got called and my center actually opened back up. So I just put it to this out on social media. Hey, I have all these bracelets and I'm just going to donate them and if anyone feels that a center or facility or physician or nurse or anyone wants one, just let me know. And I got bombarded. HMM and and people really wanted, you know, wanted to come together, mainly as a country, because this was going nationwide, to try to help individuals or facilities feel supported. So then I knew that it really meant something. So yeah, that's how we kind of got started and we started in our living room just making these bracelets and we attach a little card to the bracelet so the provider knows how all bamboo got started and what the meaning is and just to make them feel special and just united and resilient. That's awesome. I appreciate the love your spirit about. You know, you weren't able to mobilize physically, but you still wanted to do something. Yeah, to my husband I said, you know, they're not calling me at the centers open and back up. I don't know what's going on. New Jersey was plateauing and I said, you know, I'm still going to catch a flight. I want to go up there and give these two people and make them feel like they're cared for and they're not alone. Was My main thing. I didn't want anyone to feel alone in this. So yeah, that's how it got started. So I understand that you and your husband, Michael, have bootscraped this yourselves, right, there's no outside funding.

This has been really all your yeah, your mission so far. Yes, this is our mission, you know, and that was a big discussion and the beginning, because my center was shut down for a while and financially I'm at ten ninety nine employee, so I was not receiving any income. But I told my husband, I said, you know, this is worth to me, like making someone feel important, because I know how I feel and I can't imagine how the people feel that have the twelve patients and then are putting their own lives at risk and their own families lives at risk and you know just the detrimental situation. I feel like we just need to do what we can and just do this. These people need something and symbolically, and this is more important than our financial situation at the time. Yeah, you responded to the you responded to the calling thing. Yeah, well, you responded to the calling. So tell me a little bit about the first kind of inquiry. So when you put it out on put it out on social media, how did you start to get the word out about this and what was some of the responses? What were people saying? Were they saying send me hundreds of these or I want five or how did you tell us a little bit about that? It kind of was like I need to, then I need ten. Hey, can I get this facility a whole, you know. So it was like some people needed to and some people needed two hundred. So it was just from but the crazy thing was is that, and this is something that my brother told me, is that when you know you have something special, when you have someone from all over the nation reaching out for you and you know that that means something. And so that is what was so intriguing about it was that people really felt and need to feel supported. So that's that's what really hit home with me, is that this actually went completely across the country. I mean we were getting messages from California, from Arizona, from the northwest, in Oregon, I mean, and we on our website. It's really cool because my husband, as a teacher, and his kids they formulated a map on the website and we're trying to paint that Matt Bamboo Green on because the bracelets are green, right, Yep, one right here. Yeah, so we're trying to paint that Matt Baby Green and trying to just spread the word but we've had just any and every type of facility. I mean you name it, dynistry, hospitals, you know, little small office setting facilities. Everyone needs the support and to feel loved and just united in general. Yeah, so we'll put it up on in the heroes of healthcare podcastcom website, so people know how to get to the website. But why don't you tell the listeners what is the website and your and how they can kind of follow you on social or where are you guys? So it's Bandoos strongcom and that's spilled be Ambu and strongcom. And you know, we really want this, this movement, to keep going forward. We had a stall for a second and that's how the home is is Georgia thing got started. But we feel that, you know, for every dollar there's two bracelets to go to providers and and that's you know, we pay for this shipping, we pay for everything. We bought a printer off Amazon. My husband built a website. Think going to see has those skills, because I don't want so. He's really advocated for me and my idea during this whole process, which is, you know, I feel a bit we are in this together for a reason. Being a nurse and a teacher and the year two thousand and twenty, trying to make a difference. But in anybody knows there's a difference to be made, it's us. So yeah, that's kind of where we're at. So tell me about approximately how many have you have gone out and how are the request still coming in, even with the second wave and a surge, and how's the movement been going? It's been going great. You know, we'll have a couple days where we won't get a message and then we'll have a couple days where we get,...

...you know, ten, twenty messages. But the great thing is is that some of my sister Queens from other states have reached out and I've reached out to them and said, Hey, I want to provide to any facility that's important to you. I want to donate to you to spread this word, and they really use their social media to spread the word, which is really awesome in this yeah, so we're going to have the listeners all saying my sister Queens, what is that? So let's let's jump into that a little bit. Yeah, so there was so there was a lull in your process with bamboo a little bit and so let's share with the listeners that that story and and how you're now into something you probably didn't think you would be into twelve months ago. Yeah, I never thought that this would be in my laugh right now. So, yeah, we had a period where we were kind of stagnant and out and I was just bound and determined to keep this going and I happen to be on facebook one day and Mrs Georgia competition kind of popped up on my facebook and I thought wow, Mrs, I didn't even know Mrs existed. I thought after you got married it was over, and so I thought, well, what if I could go and tell this story and just go in there and be myself? So I gave him a call and they said, you know, you've got two weeks, but we'll take your application because of the covid situation and everything, but if you think you can pull it together, and, like I said earlier, I did. I Amazon prime my my shoes and my swimsuit and everything, kind of threw it together, went out there, told my story and I watched some youtube videos to try to learn how to scrub my stuff and I weaned it. But I think in the interview they could really tell that I was authentic and I meant what I was trying to do and I was trying to further this and more than a platform, I really felt like I had a purpose and I think that shine through and hide. You can't hide passion, yeah, you can't, you really can't. And so I thought that that might if I could come home with, you know, whether I placed or one, if I could come home and say hey, this is Georgia's doing this, maybe it could open some eyes. And you know, now you we say sister Queens. Well, that's all the other states that are being represented in the national pageant coming up. So how many other women, misss, were in the pageant that you and then you again, obviously, for the listeners, you emerge the winner. So this is very interest sting and I had to become educated on all this because I've had people that have said, oh, we didn't know you did pageants, and I'm like, I didn't know I did pageants either. So yeah, there was I think there was about twelve or thirteen contestants, which is a little bit less than normal because of the whole coronavirus situation. Sure, yeah, so there was about twelve or thirteen contestants and we had to do swimsuit, which was twenty five percent of the score, interview, which was fifty percent of the score, and then evening gown. That was twenty five percent of the score, and then we had an onstage question as well. So yeah, so that was very interesting and eye opening to me. It's all a new world to me, but I think that, you know, this is a wonderful way for women to, you know, have platforms and purposes and have a voice, and so that is I really feel that this is really empowered us from a standpoint of pushing bamboo forward and hopefully we can gain momentum and we can go up there and do well on this national competition. So yeah, so now you have a now you have sister Queens. Now everybody knows what sister Queens are, and that's great that they're getting behind you too and supporting you through the social media and trying to continue to push this along. So let's stay on the pageant story. So what's next? So you've won the state. I assume there's the the national thing, and tell us a little bit more about that and when is that and how does that work? Yeah, so the national pageant. It is at the end of March. We were going to...

...go with in January, because of the situation with coronavirus everything, they felt that it's safer to go and go ahead and do that in March, give us a little bit more time to prepare and if they have to take more precautions. But yeah, so that's going to be in Vegas and they've prepared us to be you know, they said, hey, or record this, record that, practices and practice that for some telecasting. So they're planning on having it on TV and if not for some reason, it'll be live streamed online so that you can watch online. But it's an eight day competition. Wow. So, yes, so I will get there around March the twenty and then I'll leave around the twenty nine. And are all fifty states represented? All fifty states are represented. We have an interview, which is fifty percent of our score. We also have a costume, the which we do an entrance in the costume and then which that's not really part of the score. It's more for entertainment. Okay, this swim, we're competition, and the on stage evening gown with the question. So yeah, but it's I mean it's a big event. You know, there's a lot that goes into this and I didn't really know kind of what I was getting into, but it's it is such a blessing to be involved in this. But there is, you know, every night there's dinners that we have to wear gowns, two and practices that you have to be in certain attire and appearance. Has a lot of work, a lot of work that goes into this, yes, so, but it's exciting. You know, I feel bill that I have a voice and I'm ready to share it. So well, something tells me, Christen, you haven't lived your life as an underachiever. No, that's the thing. The thing is is that I feel that my personality is if I'm challenged, I do better, and that's and I'll share a story with you. When I was a cheerleader in college at all Miss, I was dropped twenty feet on the basketball gym court. Who and I delayed the basketball game to Alabama. All Miss Basketball game on national TV. Yeah, that was kind of embarrassing. But try out for Varsity was they were in about a month, month and a half from then, and I felt I broke my arm, my wrist, my I have fractured a couple vertebrae in my back, my Coxi, my tailbone, everything, and I became resilient. I said, you know what, I'm going to go for Varsity this year because I want to travel the country and see these stadiums and I'm going to go for a four Oh, because I couldn't write with my right hand. So I recorded all of my lectures and all of my courses and I went and I did I've made varsity and I had a four point. So I feel like, you know what, if it's a challenge, let's bring it on, let's do better, let's go bigger. So that's just kind of how that's my personality. That's who I am, that's who Christen Robert says. That's how you're wired. That's great. I love that. Yeah, no, it's amazing how from adversity so many good things can happen, and not only your story about, you know, what happened at the university, but I'm sure was really tough to deal with at the time, but we're seeing it here and with with the pandemic that there's you know, out of the adversity a lot of people are rallying and some great causes are coming out of it and so on, and obviously we're all going to be rooting for you now as you get into the National Competition in Las Vegas. Let's just talk about as we were kind of coming around here, talk to us about the numbers. How many bracelets have come out, how of the numbers been going and what can we do to help continue to help you get the word out? Yeah, so our goal is, and I said a goal a while back when I started all this way, before I knew I was going to be doing Mrs Georgia. But our goal is to get tenzero out and I think if we can get tenzero out, then the word will start to spread. And we are at Fivezero right now. Wow. So we're at five thousand bracelets and, like I said, for every dollar there's two bracelets to go to providers. My husband and I were going to do a huge donation. I told him, I said for Christmas I really want to take care of northeast Gorgia, the hospital that I used to be employed at, and we're going to go on Wednesday before Christmas and deliver a thousand bracelets,...

...and that's from us. That's awesome, because I just I feel that you know, now more than ever, it's the season, it's giving and this is what we stand for and this is so important to us. So I would just ask that people just really you know, if you can get the word out on your social media, reach out to me. We're at bamboo strong on instagram and then also, like I said, bamboo strongcom and then my instagram is Mrs Georgia, American Two Thousand and twenty. So yeah, I mean there is the word to be spread. We can do this, we can gain momentum and we're all in this together, and what a better way? You know, I really feel that this year is historical and we need these providers to feel remembered and all those they pass. We have a vaccine coming out bit more than anything, I feel that it's important for us to remember everything that they went through the frontline situation. Well, that's why I hear at the PODCAST, we love your story, because that's very aligned with us too, and that's why we started the podcast, was to be able to recognize those unsung heroes, those people are on the front lines who are putting their lives at risk for the care of other people, and the thing is is that we get these letters. I get these handwritten letters and messages on Instagram and facebook of these nurses that feel so frustrated and just down and they just look down at their bracelet, and a lot of them are wearing them on their lanyards or key chains or whatever, but they'll look down and they just said I you know, I just feel that I'm not alone. I see this and it's just so special to me. I mean, I've read letters that have brought me the tears because they feel empowered and they feel supported, and that was my ultimate meant goal. That was my ultimate goal and all of this. That's great. That was going to be my next question was, you know, what are the some of the stories you're hearing and what are some of the feedback? But it sounds like that's what you're sharing, is that we as they are feeling tired and worn out or feeling like they just can't go any further, they feel the support from the bracelets and feel like, you know, I think. I think the thing is is it's not just a gift, you know, that we're giving them. It's something that symbolizes something. There was a lot of thought that went into this and with myself being in a frontline situation and putting myself out there, in the anxiety and the uncertainty I was feeling, I asked myself what would make me feel important and special and that's how I came up with this. So yeah, and bamboo is more. That's great. Well, we're thrilled to have you on here and are so excited about what you've got going here with bamboo. Obviously we're hope that the MRS Georgia and the Mrs Usa Competition serves as a platform for you to just sing louder about these people and what it is, and I'm sure part of the reason why you won was, as you said, the passion of your story came out and that was a big part of what they saw in what you were doing. As we kind of wrap up here, and I'll get the social media thing, you know, sites and things, and again, as I said, we'll put this on our website so as people here the podcast that they want to get more information about bamboo strong will make those links avail ball on our website so they can get to you and and get to the website and stuff. But there's any kind of last thoughts or last words you just want to kind of share with the audience and what they hear or call to arms for them, I'd love to allow you to share that with them as well. Yeah, I put a quote on the bamboo website and you know, rainer shine, we're going to persevere through this time and I want each and every one of them to always be remembered and Deil united and resilient and you know, if anything, we're going to come out stronger through this experience that we've all had together. And I know that so many people have been through so many detrimental situations, but just always know that we're sailing in this storm or in different ships, but we're all in this together and at the end of the...

...day, we are united and we are strong and I support every single one of you great and so the last thing, Christen, is, as you know and those who listen to the podcast, no, I kind of finish each episode with the question, which is who is your hero? So, growing up or currently, when you think back to who was the hero that jumps out at you the most in your life? So I have a past hero and I have several present heroes. My past hero would have to be the nurse, the critical care nurse that trained me in the ICEE. You, Sam Richardson. Wow, he was. He's an emery flight nurse. He's over the ECHMO program at kind of Stone Hospital and he went from a janitorial kind of maintenance position in a hospital to becoming lead of their echmo program and instructing so many critical care nurses and being one of the number one flight nurses in Atlanta. And if you can go and really achieve at that level and you're that passionate, from walking in a hospital as a maintenance guy to really wanting to take care of patience on that level, that to me. He trained me and yeah, he will always shine bright in my heart. So he's my first hero. And this second hero would have to be my husband. I would not be where I am today without him. He has been so supportive in this process. Matter of fact, right now he's in the living room making bracelets. That's not it's happening real time. He watches football games making bracelets. He set up our website, he finds facilities that need these bracelets, that need support. He's, you know, ordered a printer off Amazon packaging everything up for me as I work continuously. He's, you know, he's just it's been so supportive. He's my hero and all of this. But one last thing I want to say is that in the world of pageantry there has always been sponsorship, and this year there hasn't been the sponsorship because of the covid situation. So, when I first shared my story that I would be doing is that American Association of Nurse and emphasist and a group of Crnas, which is a thirtyzero member group, put my story out there and whether it's been a dollar or two dollars or whatever, to really push me forward this year and this process, they are the ones that are literally my sponsors to uplift them, which I think is an absolutely incredible I'm trying to give them a voice. Yeah, you're giving me the voice and right to need forward. So all of the front liners and the ones that are out there that are pushing me forward to represent them in this competition, you are my number ones and I'm going to do my best to represent you on that stage in March. That's awesome. What great support, right. That's got to make you feel loved, yes, and it does. It's very meaningful. That's great. So, Christen, share with the listeners where you see this going. Where do you want to take this? What other visionary things do you have going? I'm sure someone like you, you still got some ideas up your sleeve. So I really want to the ultimate goal in this. I would we would be. My dream is to develop a one, C three as a nonprofit for health care providers to have resources. I think right now, in this year, we have really shine a light on a situation that always exists, and whether it's the e our nurse that has to deal with the child that comes in and dies in our arms fromout correct and has to go back to work the next day, I feel that providers need resources education. That's something that we don't get in school and I would love to take this forward and really create something that provides that for us. So that is my ultimate goal in all of this, and I've also got something up my sleeve. I've written a children's book in regards to...

...two thousand and twenty, and so that's being illustrated right now and I'm really excited about it. But that is where we're going with this whole movement. I just want everyone to be remembered, and that's my ultimate goal. Well, that's that's amazing. Love your heart. Do we have the title to the book yet, or we just go a whole? Are we going to hold that? The title is a hero without a Cape, hero without a Cape. That's great. That's great. Well, listen. It's been my pleasure having you on here. We're so grateful of your time between work, two children, bamboo, I know, Mrs Georgia, and I'm sure a whole host of other things you've got going on. We appreciate your carving out a little time to tell us your story. We're excited for you, we're going to continue to, as I said, root for you and we just thank you for being a part of our show. Well, thank you so much. I really appreciate this. You've been listening to heroes of healthcare for more, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player or visit us at heroes of healthcare podcastcom.

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