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Healthwatch 16: 'Last line of defense' against coronavirus

A critical worker on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 has an interesting take on why it isn't actually the "front" line.

LUZERNE COUNTY, Pa. — It has now been 10 months that the United States has been dealing with COVID-19, and through it all, workers in the medical field have seen it all.

Stephanie Rarig is one of them. She's a registered nurse and the operations manager for both the observation unit and the intensive care unit at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center.

Rarig provides bedside care with her team by day and handles her other responsibilities at home by night.

"I'm serving my team the best way I can, by providing that care bedside, and then doing my operational duties outside of normal work hours, because that's what they need right now," she said.

Stephanie wanted to talk with Newswatch 16 to give people a better sense of what's going on inside hospital hallways. Her team is tired, but she notes that it's far more than just fatigue.

"Fatigue doesn't seem to be an all-encompassing word that describes the emotional and physical toll this is taking," Rarig said. "No one should have to experience as much death and heartache as we have experienced. We aren't prepared to lose the amount of people that we've been losing."

Stephanie says the one message she hopes people take from her story is that everyone is in the position to save a life. They can do that by simply washing hands, wearing a mask, and keeping some distance.

"A lot of people call us the front line. But really, we're the last line of defense. I love that quote. It's so true. The power isn't necessarily in our hands as bedside providers. It's in yours. You can prevent the spread of this disease."

Rarig adds that preventing COVID-19 is a far better option than having to treat it, and that starts outside hospital hallways.