As a medical intensive care unit nurse, Kendall Barger tends to the critically ill, including those teetering at the edge of death. With the coronavirus crisis, Barger said, COVID-19 patients are separated from non-COVID-19 patients in a Special Pathogens Unit, and the unit is staffed by MICU nurses. Barger is one of the nurses working with these patients.
She said she believes “constant” is the word that captures her experiences.
“The combination of working overtime to increase hours in a hospital, and then also your friends asking you and it being in the news, social media and just a part of the daily conversation has really been an effort to keep it from being consuming,” Barger said.
She said she finds strength in her faith in Jesus, in her friendships and in exercise. She has been attending virtual services at her church and connecting with friends over Google Meet to read one of the books of the Bible on Tuesday nights.
“I feel like [my faith] has been my peace and rest and hope throughout this, and that’s kind of a staple, like everything else flows from that,” Barger said. “And then I’ve been like just blessed with great people and … a good core group of friends that have reached out and kind of continued to care for me they like send Marco Polo videos while we’re at work that I can watch in the elevator, just that feeling of like there’s a world outside of this. That has been so encouraging.”
Barger said she wanted the public to know two things: first, that contributing to the panic can negatively impact health care workers and others, and second, that health care workers understand and appreciate those who are staying home.
“The day in and day out grind of staying home is very thankless,” she said. “But it does matter.”
She also expressed sympathy for those who could not visit family members in the hospital due to visitor restrictions, highlighting her and her colleagues’ commitment to loving and caring for their patients.
“We are honored to provide care,” Barger said. “It’s a great privilege to me to be a coronavirus nurse.”