Wednesday, May 6, 2020, is National Nurses Day, and the coronavirus pandemic is making this day and recognition more important than ever.
No matter the healthcare system, whether it's Commonwealth Health, Geisinger, or UPMC, Wednesday marks an unforgettable kick-off to National Nurses Day and Week.
Newswatch 16's Ryan Leckey talked with several nurses from across our area who shared their stories on what this day means to them and why this year holds new meaning.
UPMC Williamsport registered nurse Casey Bowes shared her experience treating patients with COVID-19.
"It's heartbreaking. The precautions that we have in place currently for our Covid-19 patients is full garb, glasses, eye protection, masks, and a gown. Caring for these patients is extremely difficult because of how much we have to limit our exposure to them. It's really hard on them. They're stuck in a room," Bowes said.
Ryan Reid, an RN at UPMC Williamsport's Intensive Care Unit, shared his story about treating patients with the coronavirus. He explained how troubling it is to see the virus affect young patients.
"So, there's a recent case where the patient was otherwise young and healthy, and they didn't really have a reason why they would need the type of support that they did, including a ventilator," explained Reid.
Other UPMC nurses, including Ashley Shawver, who works in an emergency room, talked about what her job was like when the pandemic first hit.
"Initially, whenever COVID-19 started, there were a lot of people coming to be tested," said Shawver.
Nurses who work at other healthcare systems such as Cindy Ludwig of Millville shared her story with Newswatch 16. Ludwig just became a nurse last summer and started at Geisinger near Danville in October.
"I was pretty excited. Then, they told me on a Wednesday that I was going to be shipped out for redeployment to the hospital and the treatment tent. I became a treatment nurse for COVID-19. It was kind of a shock. I thought, 'Where am I going? What are we doing? Okay. I'm in for the long haul,'" Ludwig said.
On this National Nurses day, all four of these healthcare heroes are "in it for the long haul." They expressed their appreciation and recognition they've received lately from the community.
Others say they are inspired by the pictures and letters people have sent the hospitals or placed outside, which includes chalk drawings that involved words of inspiration and gratitude.
How to support area nurses & other frontline workers:
Most major health care providers in our area have resources in place for people to connect with on how to give back.