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'We rise up to the occasion': Nurses share their stories about working on the front lines of COVID-19

Posted at 6:25 PM, May 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-06 20:37:09-04

Jesse Berndt is a nurse at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center working directly with COVID-19 patients in the ICU unit. The hours have been long and the job is not easy.

"I'm in the patients room from anywhere from minutes to hours sometimes up to four or five hours where I can’t leave patient's rooms. I’m gowned. I have a cap and helmet on, which is an alternative to an N95 mask, and it’s heavy, it gives you a headache after 10 to 15 minutes," said Berndt.

Jesse has seen the impacts of the virus firsthand. He said every day his fear is people not taking the virus seriously.

"This is really serious, and I’ve seen patients die, families not around, they are dying with nurses, strangers holding their hands - instead of loved ones, and people need to take it seriously."

For Alejandro Roldan, as a nurse practitioner, his fears are the same.

"We have heard a lot of people complain it’s the cold or it’s a flu and it’s not, this is something we have never seen before, it’s scary," said Roldan.

His main concern is making sure his family is safe when he heads home.

"What if I bring this home to my family? There are so many times my son would come run up to me and say 'daddy, daddy', and I can’t pick him up right there because I have to make sure I’m sanitized, and do everything I need to do before I can even hug him," said Roldan.

Despite their worries and concerns, these nurses still show up to work everyday to take care of the sick and vulnerable.

"We rise up to occasion. We fulfill our duty, and I think that makes us unique. We don’t stop fighting with everything going on," said Roldan.

Both nurses say the best way to honor them today and every day is by following CDC guidelines.

"People should really be mindful of what they're doing and how to mitigate this disease," said Berndt.

"By them doing their part at home, that’s the best thing. Perform hand hygiene, follow all the CDC regulations that are out there right now," said Roldan.

Nurses say althought the praise is nice, what they would like is for lawmakers to pass the Healthcare Heroes Package that would include hazard pay and free child care.

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