National Nurses Day: Celebrating local nurses battling Covid-19 on the front lines

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CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – MaryAlice Chapman has been a nurse for 17 years. The R.N. says, she wanted to be a nurse since she was a young woman, but after she had a family she decided to put taking classes on hold.

That was until she started caring for her grandmother.

“She had a lot of health issues and I took care of her and she told me, “You need to be a nurse”, so I actually started taking classes while I was still taking care of her, ” Chapman explained.

Chapman says the role of a nurse during the pandemic has evolved.

“We’re here first of all to take care of our patients, to make a difference in their lives, if it means doing cleaning, if we’re there to help get a wheel chair for them; we may not be doing what our role is as far as procedures and the nursing role that we are taking right now, but we’re doing whatever needs to be done for these patients and if we can fill a void somewhere,” she explained.

Chapman says another way their roles have changed is the amount of personal protective equipment they must wear while working, which includes a mask they must wear all day. All employees at Conway Medical Center get screened for Covid-19 before they go into work and then dawn layers of PPE.

“We’ve got special eye protection, we have to wear gowns and hair covers and shoe covers…not just to protect ourselves but to protect others as well,” Chapman explained. “It’s a different world.”

Another large change at most hospitals in the United States, no visitors allowed. Something Chapman says means, they have to become the patients support system and provide the patient’s family with updates about their health.

Something Chapman knows well, as she is relying on the doctors and nurses to communicate with her while her own father is recovering from an ICU stay right now in a rehabilitation facility where she can’t visit him. 

“Just them letting me know how he’s doing, I know the importance of letting family members know,” she said.

Chapman says during the pandemic, it’s been “wonderful” to see how different people, local businesses and companies have shown their support by sending messages, meals or supplies.

The Conway Medical Center has a website set up where you can go to send a message or donate. You can find that by clicking here.

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