COCHRAN, GEORGIA: For the past several months, our country, well, our world, has been battling a virus called coronavirus, or COVID-19. This has been a ‘ride’ that no one, not even our government in Washington, D.C., has been or was prepped for.
The numbers of confirmed cases of the COVID-19 in the United States continue to rapidly increase as does the number of deaths. Hospitalizations of patients with the virus seem to stay around the same, but only in certain areas.
And our doctors, nurses and other medical staff don’t stop caring or working ‘the front lines.’ Many have volunteered to go beyond their normal realm of duties just to ‘help out.’
Cochran’s own Nicole Smith, age 41, is one of those doing that. Nicole is a certified nurse practitioner. (NP-C) It is a role she has had since May 2005 – 15 years ago, and celebrates 19 years as a registered nurse this month as well.
When asked about becoming a nurse, Nicole said, “I saw my dad grow up with diabetes. I always saw him giving himself shots, checking blood sugars, and I was interested in health care.”
She continued, “I always knew I wanted to be a nurse. It wasn’t until I was out of RN school that I decided I wanted to get a master’s degree, and further my education as an NP.”
During her almost two decade career, Nicole has had many experiences, and one of the most important things she has learned, and applies daily, is “ Listen to your patient, they will tell you or lead you in the direction of finding a correction diagnosis for their problem.”
When asked about the changes that have occured in her office and daily duties since the COVID-19 has raged in our lives, Nicole paused. “The week before (the shutdown) I was seeing 20-23 in office patients. A week after the COVID shutdown the numbers dropped to five. Now we are back up to about 15 per day.”
She continued to explain that they are seeing patients both in office and via telemed. “I still like to see my patients in person, if at all possible. I feel like I may miss something through telemed.”
Nicole added, “For refilling meds or reviewing labs this is a great option. We see about three telemeds a day and 10-15 patients in person.”
Other adjustments she has had to make include in her daily routines. She said, “…wearing PPE (personal protective equipment), like a gown, gloves, mask, etc…, intake of patients is different- we have them sit in their car. We bring them masks and gloves, and take them directly to a room … no patients wait in the waiting room; we are using telemed.”
Nicole stated, “ I have gone back to the ICU on the weekends to help fill the void of RNs at the bedside to help take care of COVID-19 patients.”
When she is not helping others feel better and get well, Nicole is a wife and a mother of one. The preventative steps she takes when she comes home has changed drastically. “I have to strip my clothes/shoes outside the door.”
“I take them directly to the washer, and double wash my scrubs. Then I go directly to the shower to clean myself.”
She stated, “Then my time can begin with my family. Luckily, I have not had to quarantine myself away from them.”
Most people have something or someone that gets them through each day. Nicole said for her it is “Jesus, family, coffee and Crossfit.” – Story Submitted By Rebecca.
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