COLUMBUS, Ohio — Thursday marks three years since Ohio saw its first case of COVID-19. Three years later, it feels as though so much has changed for all of us in some shape or form. For nurses on the front lines -- the memory of those early days in March 2020 are still very raw.
“We were like 'oh my gosh we cannot believe this is happening,’” said registered nurse, Amy Peach.
Peach was working in the medical intensive care unit at OSU Wexner Medical Center when she learned the news.
It was March 9, 2020.
“We were the first unit to take care of COVID patients,” she said.
She said in the months that followed there were moments that were stressful and intense.
“There was a couple of weeks where we had-- there was a death every shift.”
She had never dealt with so much death.
“This was where you'd have your whole section, there would be three or four in a shift. You come back the next day and different people are there.”
And in many cases -- she was the only person with a patient as they passed away, holding an iPad for the family to virtually say goodbye.
And-- things out of her control made matters even worse.
“If the iPads weren't working fast enough or quickly you just felt like it was your fault.”
And at times -- she personally knew her patients.
“When it's a good friend's mother, yeah it feels a little bit different.”
The weight of what Amy experienced was unfortunately shared by so many others.
Abby Evans is a nurse administrator at two OhioHealth hospitals.
In her role -- she oversees her team -- but at times -- COVID changed that.
“I had to garb up and transport a patient,” she said. “I shared those feelings of the unknown of the fear. I just really had to in the moment, do what I was called to do as a nurse and just trust that everything would be okay.”
Their stories are ones of perseverance -- and proving they can overcome anything.
“We are better nurses by what we saw, and by what we cared for, and it is helped advance the practice of nursing,” Evans said.