LEWISBURG — Emergency Medical Service workers, doctors and nurses have been dubbed heroes in the season of COVID-19.
Among them, Christie Hoover, RN, who works at the intensive care unit at Evangelical Community Hospital. She has been a nurse for eight years and has worked with COVID-19 patients, a challenging yet satisfying task. Some have been hospitalized for as many as 40 days.
“To see these people go from being really sick to leaving the hospital and being able to go home,” Hoover said. “It is such a small town, driving by their house and seeing the sign we gave them outside of their home. It is just really rewarding.”
Hoover began hearing about the “novel” or new coronavirus in December through journals and professional media. At the time, it could not be determined whether it was more serious than conventional flu or even a previous coronavirus.
“I’ve cared for children with coronavirus in the past,” Hoover said. “It didn’t automatically strike me to be scared or think it would turn into what it did.”
Before long, the new virus did indeed spread. Hoover said she first started seeing patients with COVID-19 in March. It was most definitely a new and different experience for all involved.
“When we got our first patient in, just seeing the set up and what you had to do to go into that room to stay safe. That sticks out in my mind,” she said. “Everybody was kind of gawking from outside, (thinking) what you do? What do you not do? How do you go in? How do you come out?”
More intensive use of personal protection equipment has become a hallmark of coronavirus treatment. Hoover and other nurses need to dress in special gear in a room adjacent to a patient, enter the patient’s room and care for the patient. They then reverse the process when it is time to exit.
As more COVID-19 patients appeared, Hoover treated them because that is what nurses to. However, it did have an effect on life at home with her husband of five years and young daughter.
“In the beginning I was kind of nervous, more so for my daughter because it was so unknown,” Hoover said. “Bringing something home to her, you’re still not sure until everything works itself out.”
Maintaining social distance is a challenge at home, Hoover admitted, especially with a young child. She takes care to change right away on returning home and not go near anyone until showered and cleaned up.
A good balance between home and work was something to strive for, Hoover noted. Her husband knows to give her some space when she comes off a shift. Outdoor activities and fresh air are enjoyable on days off.
With other family, such as parents and siblings, healthy practices had to be maintained rigorously. It was difficult to not see some family members for a time.
“Everybody knew that I was the one working around sick people,” Hoover recalled. “That was a little bit hard in the beginning.”
Despite having considerable professional expertise, with more gained in the last six months, Hoover was reluctant to call herself a hero.
“Before this pandemic and for a long time after, we are still going to take care of people without a blink of an eye,” Hoover said. “When I think of front line workers, I think of ‘New York City.’ Then I sit back and consider we are the front line workers of our small community. These people are relying on us.”
Hoover said was scary in the beginning, but they do what they need to do and take care of people no matter how sick they are.