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Wichita nurse spends most of her short career in COVID-19 unit

Coronavirus in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Over the course of the year, the healthcare industry has been shaken to its core by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although many industry professionals are exhausted, one nurse is positively rolling with the punches.

Ascension Via Christi registered nurse Kerri Young began practicing in January 2020. Just a few months before COVID-19 shook up hospitals nationwide, she said nursing is her calling, but a life-changing event is what prompted her switch in careers. Young was a school secretary but left the workforce to care for her dying father-in-law.

“He was like my best friend, so I spent every day with him.”

After many nights by his side, a hospice nurse approached her.

“And she’s like, you really are in whatever you’re doing, you’re in the wrong profession, you need to be a nurse.”

As Young put it, this lit the fire in December 2019. She graduated with her nursing degree from Butler Community College and began working in January for Ascension Via Christi.

“There’s nothing about it that’s disappointed me. There’s nothing that made me question if I chose the right career.”

But, it has come with many unforeseen challenges. Overnight, Young’s unit was converted to deal strictly with COVID-19 patients.

“We just kept sending them on and then hoping for the best not knowing if they made it.”

For Young, the lack of patient interaction has been the toughest part of the job, until one quiet night when a patient reminded her why she’s nursing in the first place.

“He got to tell me he’s been married for 40 years, and you know just got to learn about him and that’s why I went into nursing.”

After a year of dealing with a deadly pandemic, Young said her advice for those in the healthcare industry is simple.

“Just kind of hang in there because we’re gonna get through it.”

Young said she looks forward to being on the other side of the pandemic especially now that her daughter is following in her footsteps to become a nurse.

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