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Healthwatch 16: National Nurses Week

It was designated back in the 1990s, but National Nurses Week took on special meaning this year after the COVID-19 pandemic.

This month, the world marked National Nurses Week, an annual celebration of everything that nurses do for their communities.

National Nurses Week has been around for a while, but this year it takes on special meaning. We wanted to hear first-hand from a few nurses in our area.

"I love what I do. I will always love being a nurse," said Cheryl McHale.

McHale has worked as an RN for more than 35 years, the majority of those in cardiac intensive care, but more recently, in a COVID-19 vaccine unit. A recent interaction really touched her.

"We had a woman come into the Hughes Center where we did our vaccines. She was in her 80s, and I gave her a vaccine, and she started to cry. I wondered if I hurt her! I asked if she was OK, and she said, 'No, I wish this would have been available three weeks prior. I lost my husband three weeks ago from COVID.'"

She admits she had her doubts early on in the pandemic about whether she could handle it all. She says, like so many others, she was scared.

"I have never in my lifetime experienced something like this. I never thought it would be this long of an endeavor."

Terri Meyers echoes that sentiment. She's an LPN with Geisinger's 65 Forward program in Wilkes-Barre, who was also reassigned during the height of COVID.

"I've seen a lot of tragedy. I've seen a lot of sick people, a lot of people I just couldn't help. And that hurt my heart."

What bothered Meyers most was not being able to touch people or hug them when they needed it.

"They would ask you, 'Am I going to die?' It's an unknown question. You'd walk out of the room and cry."

But these nurses say that they and so many of their colleagues wouldn't change a single thing.

"Compassion," Meyers said. "If I can brighten somebody's day, make them feel better, that makes it so much better for myself."

"You take what you've got, and you work with it," McHale added. "And you make the best of it."