Heroes of Healthcare
Heroes of Healthcare

Episode · 10 months ago

Bambū: Bringing Awareness through Medicine by Uniting

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

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 transforminglives in their communities. Let's get into the show. Welcome to the heroesof healthcare podcast. I'm your host, Ted Wayne. I'm joined today byKristen 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 intwo thousand and eight. Serving in critical care, she was accepted into theHamat 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, acertified registered nurse anesthesiologist. In Two Thousand and twelve. As an anesthesia provider, Christen has served the country from coast to coast. She has provided carein Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Oregon and, of course, in her home stateof Georgia. At the onset of covid nineteen, Kristen and her husband, Michael, founded bamboo as a way to unite the country in support ofour heroes of healthcare. Completely self funded. They have built this organization from theground up. They've collaborated to create a movement nationwide as a reminder ofappreciation to our providers during these trying times. We're very excited to have Kristen Robertsjoin us on the heroes of healthcare. Welcome, Christen. Hello, hi, everyone. I'm Christen Roberts, now Miss Georgia, American here torepresent all the wonderful nurses and frontline workers of this country and I'm so excitedto be on today and to speak with all of you. Well, that'sgreat. Yeah, I want to talk more about the Mrs Georgia part ofit, but thanks for being here, thanks for joining us. We're excitedto talk more about it. Why don't you tell the listeners? I kindof gave a little bit of an intro before we kicked on here about yourbackground, but why don't you tell the listeners a little bit more? Howlong have you been a crna and where you currently practicing, and a littlebit about your passion of Healthcare? Yeah, so I've been a crna now fornine years. I actually put my first patient to sleep at twenty fouryears old, which is crazy, but practicing independently. I've been a CRNAfor nine years. I've practiced all over the country, up in Rhode Island, Oregon. I'm originally from Mississippi, as I stated before, and nowI currently reside in North Georgia and practice at a Gi facility where I currentlyreside about twenty minutes away from that facility. And then have previously served the hospitalright next to the GI center in ob in the past. So Ihad a passion for babies before this. So but now that I had myown 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'min 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. Sotell us a little bit about your organization, Bamboo. Tell us a little bitabout how that came about. What was the spark of the idea?Okay, so that when the pandemic first hit, I found myself on mysofa 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 timesand including down at children's in Atlanta, and but I felt called to goand serve on a nightly basis. I was just torn. I reached outto my family and I felt that my center at the time had shut downand I wanted to go and serve our country and one of the hottest spotsthere was. So I figured, if I'm going to do it, I'mgoing 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 thecritical care units, with former I see you experience, I knew that Iwas stressed out to the Max if I...

...had three patients. So I feltthat, 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 goingto 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 withhaving 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 notreally knowing anyone that I was going to be beside and taking care of allthese patients. So I kind of started to brainstorm and I thought, whatis it that I want to do? You know, I'm putting myself outthere, but I want to do something bigger. I want to make usfeel united as providers and really give us strength and hope. And we're allin this together, you know, we're stail in the same storm, butwe're in different ships. And so, a after a lot of research,I wanted to find a symbol that symbolized strength, unity, optimism, encouragementand resilience, and that symbol happened to be the plant bamboo. Okay,really interesting because when I graduated from Anesthesia School, one of the gifts thatour program gave us was a plant of bamboo, and I never remembered thatuntil I got into this whole process and I was like, well, thatthey actually gave us bamboo as a graduation present because of everything that it stoodfor. So I did some more brainstorming and thought what could I do tohave 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 allin this together and reunited. And so I came up with the idea ofcreating a bracelet with actually a piece of bamboo on it. So that's whatI 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 bamboothat actually meant something special, and so I spelled it be Ambu, whichstands for bringing awareness or medicine by uniting, and so that's kind of how itgot started. So we made hundreds of these bracelets, as we planto go up north to New Jersey, and I was going to pass themout to any and everybody to make us still united. And then, oncethey started to plateau, we never got called and my center actually opened backup. 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 ifanyone 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 peoplereally wanted, you know, wanted to come together, mainly as a country, because this was going nationwide, to try to help individuals or facilities feelsupported. 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 justmaking these bracelets and we attach a little card to the bracelet so the providerknows how all bamboo got started and what the meaning is and just to makethem feel special and just united and resilient. That's awesome. I appreciate the loveyour 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 togo up there and give these two people and make them feel like they're caredfor and they're not alone. Was My main thing. I didn't want anyoneto feel alone in this. So yeah, that's how it got started. SoI 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 wasshut down for a while and financially I'm at ten ninety nine employee, soI 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 feelthat have the twelve patients and then are putting their own lives at risk andtheir own families lives at risk and you know just the detrimental situation. Ifeel 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 financialsituation at the time. Yeah, you responded to the you responded to thecalling thing. Yeah, well, you responded to the calling. So tellme a little bit about the first kind of inquiry. So when you putit out on put it out on social media, how did you start toget the word out about this and what was some of the responses? Whatwere people saying? Were they saying send me hundreds of these or I wantfive or how did you tell us a little bit about that? It kindof was like I need to, then I need ten. Hey, canI get this facility a whole, you know. So it was like somepeople needed to and some people needed two hundred. So it was just frombut the crazy thing was is that, and this is something that my brothertold me, is that when you know you have something special, when youhave someone from all over the nation reaching out for you and you know thatthat means something. And so that is what was so intriguing about it wasthat people really felt and need to feel supported. So that's that's what reallyhit 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 reallycool because my husband, as a teacher, and his kids they formulated a mapon the website and we're trying to paint that Matt Bamboo Green on becausethe bracelets are green, right, Yep, one right here. Yeah, sowe're trying to paint that Matt Baby Green and trying to just spread theword but we've had just any and every type of facility. I mean youname 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 youtell the listeners what is the website and your and how they can kind offollow you on social or where are you guys? So it's Bandoos strongcom andthat'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 secondand that's how the home is is Georgia thing got started. But wefeel that, you know, for every dollar there's two bracelets to go toproviders and and that's you know, we pay for this shipping, we payfor 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'sreally advocated for me and my idea during this whole process, which is, you know, I feel a bit we are in this together for areason. 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 tobe 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 howare 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'llhave a couple days where we get,...

...you know, ten, twenty messages. But the great thing is is that some of my sister Queens from otherstates 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 todonate to you to spread this word, and they really use their social mediato spread the word, which is really awesome in this yeah, so we'regoing 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 wasso there was a lull in your process with bamboo a little bit and solet's share with the listeners that that story and and how you're now into somethingyou probably didn't think you would be into twelve months ago. Yeah, Inever 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 Iwas just bound and determined to keep this going and I happen to be onfacebook one day and Mrs Georgia competition kind of popped up on my facebook andI thought wow, Mrs, I didn't even know Mrs existed. I thoughtafter 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 andbe 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 covidsituation and everything, but if you think you can pull it together, and, like I said earlier, I did. I Amazon prime my my shoes andmy swimsuit and everything, kind of threw it together, went out there, told my story and I watched some youtube videos to try to learn howto scrub my stuff and I weaned it. But I think in the interview theycould really tell that I was authentic and I meant what I was tryingto 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 andhide. 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 sayhey, this is Georgia's doing this, maybe it could open some eyes.And you know, now you we say sister Queens. Well, that'sall 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 andthen you again, obviously, for the listeners, you emerge the winner.So this is very interest sting and I had to become educated on all thisbecause I've had people that have said, oh, we didn't know you didpageants, and I'm like, I didn't know I did pageants either. Soyeah, there was I think there was about twelve or thirteen contestants, whichis 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 todo swimsuit, which was twenty five percent of the score, interview, whichwas fifty percent of the score, and then evening gown. That was twentyfive 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 platformsand purposes and have a voice, and so that is I really feel thatthis is really empowered us from a standpoint of pushing bamboo forward and hopefully wecan gain momentum and we can go up there and do well on this nationalcompetition. 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 behindyou too and supporting you through the social media and trying to continue topush 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 howdoes that work? Yeah, so the national pageant. It is at theend of March. We were going to...

...go with in January, because ofthe situation with coronavirus everything, they felt that it's safer to go and goahead and do that in March, give us a little bit more time toprepare and if they have to take more precautions. But yeah, so that'sgoing to be in Vegas and they've prepared us to be you know, theysaid, hey, or record this, record that, practices and practice thatfor some telecasting. So they're planning on having it on TV and if notfor some reason, it'll be live streamed online so that you can watch online. But it's an eight day competition. Wow. So, yes, soI will get there around March the twenty and then I'll leave around the twentynine. And are all fifty states represented? All fifty states are represented. Wehave an interview, which is fifty percent of our score. We alsohave a costume, the which we do an entrance in the costume and thenwhich 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 thequestion. So yeah, but it's I mean it's a big event. Youknow, there's a lot that goes into this and I didn't really know kindof what I was getting into, but it's it is such a blessing tobe involved in this. But there is, you know, every night there's dinnersthat we have to wear gowns, two and practices that you have tobe in certain attire and appearance. Has a lot of work, a lotof work that goes into this, yes, so, but it's exciting. Youknow, I feel bill that I have a voice and I'm ready toshare it. So well, something tells me, Christen, you haven't livedyour life as an underachiever. No, that's the thing. The thing isis 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 acheerleader in college at all Miss, I was dropped twenty feet on the basketballgym court. Who and I delayed the basketball game to Alabama. All MissBasketball game on national TV. Yeah, that was kind of embarrassing. Buttry out for Varsity was they were in about a month, month and ahalf from then, and I felt I broke my arm, my wrist,my I have fractured a couple vertebrae in my back, my Coxi, mytailbone, everything, and I became resilient. I said, you know what,I'm going to go for Varsity this year because I want to travel thecountry 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 lecturesand all of my courses and I went and I did I've made varsityand 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'swho 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 adversityso 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 todeal with at the time, but we're seeing it here and with withthe pandemic that there's you know, out of the adversity a lot of peopleare 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 intothe National Competition in Las Vegas. Let's just talk about as we were kindof coming around here, talk to us about the numbers. How many braceletshave come out, how of the numbers been going and what can we doto help continue to help you get the word out? Yeah, so ourgoal is, and I said a goal a while back when I started allthis 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 gettenzero out, then the word will start to spread. And we are atFivezero right now. Wow. So we're at five thousand bracelets and, likeI said, for every dollar there's two bracelets to go to providers. Myhusband 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, thehospital that I used to be employed at, and we're going to go on Wednesdaybefore 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 andthis is so important to us. So I would just ask that people justreally 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 tobe spread. We can do this, we can gain momentum and we're allin this together, and what a better way? You know, Ireally feel that this year is historical and we need these providers to feel rememberedand all those they pass. We have a vaccine coming out bit more thananything, I feel that it's important for us to remember everything that they wentthrough 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'swhy 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 riskfor the care of other people, and the thing is is that we getthese letters. I get these handwritten letters and messages on Instagram and facebook ofthese nurses that feel so frustrated and just down and they just look down attheir bracelet, and a lot of them are wearing them on their lanyards orkey chains or whatever, but they'll look down and they just said I youknow, I just feel that I'm not alone. I see this and it'sjust so special to me. I mean, I've read letters that have brought methe tears because they feel empowered and they feel supported, and that wasmy 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 ofthe feedback? But it sounds like that's what you're sharing, is that weas they are feeling tired and worn out or feeling like they just can't goany further, they feel the support from the bracelets and feel like, youknow, I think. I think the thing is is it's not just agift, 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 beingin a frontline situation and putting myself out there, in the anxiety and theuncertainty I was feeling, I asked myself what would make me feel important andspecial and that's how I came up with this. So yeah, and bamboois more. That's great. Well, we're thrilled to have you on hereand are so excited about what you've got going here with bamboo. Obviously we'rehope that the MRS Georgia and the Mrs Usa Competition serves as a platform foryou to just sing louder about these people and what it is, and I'msure part of the reason why you won was, as you said, thepassion of your story came out and that was a big part of what theysaw 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 aspeople here the podcast that they want to get more information about bamboo strong willmake those links avail ball on our website so they can get to you andand get to the website and stuff. But there's any kind of last thoughtsor last words you just want to kind of share with the audience and whatthey hear or call to arms for them, I'd love to allow you to sharethat with them as well. Yeah, I put a quote on the bamboowebsite and you know, rainer shine, we're going to persevere through this timeand I want each and every one of them to always be remembered andDeil united and resilient and you know, if anything, we're going to comeout stronger through this experience that we've all had together. And I know thatso many people have been through so many detrimental situations, but just always knowthat we're sailing in this storm or in different ships, but we're all inthis together and at the end of the...

...day, we are united and weare strong and I support every single one of you great and so the lastthing, Christen, is, as you know and those who listen to thepodcast, no, I kind of finish each episode with the question, whichis who is your hero? So, growing up or currently, when youthink back to who was the hero that jumps out at you the most inyour 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 nursethat trained me in the ICEE. You, Sam Richardson. Wow, he was. He's an emery flight nurse. He's over the ECHMO program at kindof Stone Hospital and he went from a janitorial kind of maintenance position in ahospital to becoming lead of their echmo program and instructing so many critical care nursesand being one of the number one flight nurses in Atlanta. And if youcan go and really achieve at that level and you're that passionate, from walkingin a hospital as a maintenance guy to really wanting to take care of patienceon that level, that to me. He trained me and yeah, hewill always shine bright in my heart. So he's my first hero. Andthis second hero would have to be my husband. I would not be whereI 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'snot it's happening real time. He watches football games making bracelets. He setup our website, he finds facilities that need these bracelets, that need support. He's, you know, ordered a printer off Amazon packaging everything up forme as I work continuously. He's, you know, he's just it's beenso supportive. He's my hero and all of this. But one last thingI want to say is that in the world of pageantry there has always beensponsorship, 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 isthat American Association of Nurse and emphasist and a group of Crnas, which isa thirtyzero member group, put my story out there and whether it's been adollar or two dollars or whatever, to really push me forward this year andthis 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. Soall of the front liners and the ones that are out there that are pushingme forward to represent them in this competition, you are my number ones and I'mgoing 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. Wheredo 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 wewould be. My dream is to develop a one, C three as anonprofit for health care providers to have resources. I think right now, in thisyear, 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 childthat comes in and dies in our arms fromout correct and has to go backto work the next day, I feel that providers need resources education. That'ssomething that we don't get in school and I would love to take this forwardand really create something that provides that for us. So that is my ultimategoal 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 sothat's being illustrated right now and I'm really excited about it. But that iswhere 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 justgo a whole? Are we going to hold that? The title is ahero 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'reso 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 gotgoing on. We appreciate your carving out a little time to tell us yourstory. We're excited for you, we're going to continue to, as Isaid, root for you and we just thank you for being a part ofour show. Well, thank you so much. I really appreciate this.You've been listening to heroes of healthcare for more, subscribe to the show inyour favorite podcast player or visit us at heroes of healthcare podcastcom.

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