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UT Health East Texas nurses talk about working inside the COVID-19 ICU

“We have highs and lows, but the patients will never know the difference"
Jacqueline Kincade talks with COVID-19 patient Vivian Schumer at UT Health.
Jacqueline Kincade talks with COVID-19 patient Vivian Schumer at UT Health.(UT Health East Texas)
Updated: Apr. 10, 2020 at 11:28 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The hours are long, the work is stressful, and it’s a job that requires sacrifice. This is the reality for nurses working inside of the COVID-19 intensive care unit at UT Health East Texas in Tyler. But despite the things that would scare most people away, these nurses say their love and passion for their patients keep them coming back each day.

“I’ve seen patients come in here that have been at their sickest, like Mrs. Vivian Schumer,” said Noralea Page. “And then I’ve seen her recover and move out of here. And to anybody that doesn’t know, that’s one of the biggest blessings someone can ever have.”

And the biggest blessing a patient can have is a nurse committed to their recovery. Dionne Martin, Noralea Page, and Jacqueline Kincade are all critical care nurses at UT Health East Texas, who are now tasked with caring for patients diagnosed with COVID-19.

Dionne Martin, Noralea Page, and Jacquline Kincade are all nurses working inside of UT Health's...
Dionne Martin, Noralea Page, and Jacquline Kincade are all nurses working inside of UT Health's COVID-19 ICU in Tyler.(UT Health East Texas)

“It’s mostly supportive care,” Page said. “We give antibiotics and medication as needed. But most importantly, we’re the patient’s family, since no visitors can come up to the hospital.”

It’s the isolation that makes this situation unique and strengthens the bond between patients and nurses.

“When we’re in the rooms, the patients are sedated, but we talk to them and we pray with them," Page said. Families have sent letters with prayers asking us to read them to the patient. We just let them know we’re going to support them and get them through this.”

The nursing staff uses FaceTime to keep patients connected with their family and friends, and this week they even helped Schumer celebrate Passover.

Before going to each patient’s room, the nurses suit up in personal protective equipment, a process that takes about five to 10 minutes and must be repeated with each patient.

Kincade and Martin each have a son staying with grandparents for the time being. It’s just one of the many sacrifices they are willing to make to care for East Texans with COVID-19.

“This is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” Page said.

“We have highs and lows, but the patients will never know the difference. We’re their number one cheerleader," Martin said.

RELATED STORY: 80-year-old East Texan with COVID-19 improving, moves out of ICU

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