Nov, 15, 2021 – Emergency department nurse manager Kathleen Shea’s daughter was six months old when the first Covid-19 positive patient arrived in our hospital in 2019. It was a moment of intense anxiety – little was known about the deadly virus and supplies of protective equipment were still scarce. “Caring for one Covid patient felt like a huge feat at that time. Little did I know that we would go on to help care for 6,920 total Covid patients over the next year,” she recalled at a Nov. 15 commemorative gathering held in our hospital’s cafeteria.
Shea recalled returning home from that terrifying first day of Covid at MLKCH and watching her infant daughter sleep. “In the silence of the night I thought about the story I would want to tell my daughter about this time in her life,” Shea said. “I didn’t want my daughter to hear about how her mom was scared. I wanted to tell my daughter about when her mom …had the choice to do what was right or what was easy her mom put her scrubs on and walked into that fire.”
“That’s the story I will tell my daughter one day. I will tell her when the world was on fire around us, we used it as our fuel to care for the people who needed us the most,” Shea said.
The risks taken by MLKCH’s staff over the past year cannot be exaggerated. Today’s event celebrated those incredible achievements, from the pharmacy manager who drove miles to secure hard-to-find medications, to the security guard who reassure hundreds of worried family members who could not visit their quarantined relatives, to the nurses and doctors who held the hands of the dying but also fought for every survivor.
“Every day you came to work in the face of fear, fatigue, emotional trauma and took care of our patients and our community and did so in phenomenal fashion,” MLKCH CEO Dr. Elaine Batchlor noted.
Asm. Mike Gipson (D-64) also thanked staff for “not giving up…not listening to your tired body. You stood in the gap and you made the difference,” before presenting a check for $10 million in special state appropriations in recognition on our hospital and health system’s disproportionate role in combatting Covid.