HOUSTON - We want to commend medical workers who have worked tirelessly to save lives throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Two nurses from Houston Methodist Hospital volunteered for FEMA and traveled to New York to help during the peak. Shanedra Davis and Tamiracle Adams are now sharing words of advice to help their fellow medical workers.
They're happy to be back at their jobs at the transplant center at Houston Methodist Hospital. At the beginning of the pandemic, their schedules slowed down and their managers gave them blessings to share their talents, where they were needed most.
Tamiracle took her skills to a nursing home in New York.
"Patients didn't do well, they just didn't do well. It spread like wildfire in the nursing home environment. I think in the facility that we were in 60% of the staff were out with COVID symptoms," explains Tamiracle.
She says many of the patients had dementia and didn't understand they needed to stay apart, so keeping them separated was next to impossible.
"It was very, very difficult to wrap your mind around that people can be so stable, you thought, and then for you to come back shortly later and for them to not be there," explains Tamiracle.
She says she would get close to the patient's families, which made it even tougher to let them know that their loved ones had died from the virus.
"I always say nurses are like caulk, we get in where we fit in, we do what needs to be done. I knew that there was going to be a different set of skill that was going to be required for working in New York. I didn't really know what those skills would be. Luckily, our staffing agency had crisis management counselors, there, so I ended up having to take a couple of counseling sessions by the time it was over, to really deal with my anxiety surrounding it. And just the overall sense of loss," states Tamiracle.
Meanwhile, Shanedra was helping at a hospital in the Bronx that only cared for COVID-19 patients. It was a brutal experience.
"We're talking at least three deaths per shift, when I left New York, it was one (death) a night. My first week I did have to take a break because I saw something that happened one night, it was two deaths, they went really bad for me. I ended up having to take a break, I think that was my first time really realizing that I actually had anxiety," bravely states Shanedra.
She's concerned about many medical workers now.
"I can really understand how coming out of this people will have PTSD, and the nurses who have been there from the beginning of this, I can see how they feel hopeless," states Shanedra.
She was able to find coping mechanisms to help deal with it though and shares this advice.
"Talk to someone! I honestly believe in God, and that's all I did before I went, when I got there every day, me and several other workers would pray before we walked in the building, every shift. So that was the biggest thing for me," says Shanedra.
Tamiracle also suggests an app, that's free right now called Sanvello.
"It was the saving grace for me while I was there in New York. It's a really great way to go through the steps of what my goals were. A friend of mine is a social worker and suggested I try it. It really helped me deal with the anxiety of being there. It helped redirect my negative thoughts. There was a point where it was like, 'there's nothing I can do, this patient is going to pass. What am I doing here? If I'm not helping, then what am I doing?' I suffered a lot of self-worth problems, if I'm not helping, then I'm not doing any good," says Tamiracle.
She says the lessons made her think about how else she was helping there by relieving other nurses who had been working around the clock, until her arrival.
Tamiracle and Shanedra were happy to come back to their families in Houston. Tamiracle tested positive for the virus, but was asymptomatic. Both had to self-quarantine in a hotel for several weeks.
"A big blessing was that the Hilton and the Texas Nurses Association allowed free rooms for frontliners to quarantine, in essence of their families to keep their families safe," explains Tamiracle.
Then she had to deal with an added layer of stress, with her three-year-old child trying to figure out why his mom didn't come home.
"My son thought I didn't like him. He really felt rejected, so when I came home and I gave him a hug, the first thing that he said to me was, 'oh mommy you're back and you like me', so I started crying and I reached out because he thought I didn't like him, because we had to social distance," reflects Tamiracle. She's had plenty of time to show him how much his mom cares.
As we get a glimpse of what many medical workers are going through, it's obvious we need to continue to appreciate and highlight their valiant efforts.