Editor’s Note: March 26 marked two years since Frederick Health Hospital admitted its first coronavirus patient. As the country enters Year 3 of living with the pandemic, The Frederick News-Post spoke with three health care workers about what they experienced over the past two years and how they kept going.
Below, we share the story of Katina Parker, a respiratory therapist who had to find new ways to keep motivated as the pandemic dragged on. In Monday’s edition, we will share the story of Joy White, a charge nurse on the medical surgical floor.
In the early months of the pandemic, a local TV station in Baltimore ran a segment celebrating respiratory therapists as “unsung heroes” of the pandemic.
After it aired, Katina Parker, a charge respiratory therapist at Frederick Health Hospital, pulled up the video on her phone and showed it to her daughter. She expected the child’s face to brighten as she was watching the clip. But it didn’t.
“I said, ‘Well, what’s wrong?’” Parker recalled on a recent morning, seated in the lobby of the local hospital. “She goes, ‘Well, I like that you’re important at your job. But you’re putting yourself at risk.’”
“My 9-year-old said that to me. ‘I don’t like that you could get this COVID and something could happen to you,’” she said. “I did not expect that reaction at all.”
March 26 marked two years since Frederick Health Hospital admitted its first coronavirus patient. Since then, the virus has gone from a terrifying unknown to a more familiar threat — one that has left health care workers exhausted.
Frederick Health Chief Nursing Officer Diane McFarland remembers making rounds during the latest surge, when staff were caring for a pandemic high of nearly 120 people who had tested positive for the virus.
“Nursing is really an art,” McFarland said, growing emotional. “It’s a calling that people have. And it’s just awe-inspiring to me to see that they were coming here every day and doing what they wanted to do, what they love to do, and caring for the patients like they were their family.”
Things have since calmed down at the local hospital. As of Friday, it was treating only eight people who were COVID-positive. Coronavirus positivity levels are down countywide, sitting at 2.36 percent on Friday — dramatically lower than where they stood on Jan. 7, when they peaked at 33.85. This number is calculated by dividing the total number of administered COVID-19 tests by those that came back positive.
But health care workers are still working through the fallout of the pandemic’s most recent wave and all the ones that came before it.
As the world enters its third year of living with the coronavirus, The Frederick News-Post spoke with three Frederick Health staff members about the past two years and how they got through them.
Today, we are sharing Parker’s story. In the days to come, we’ll share the stories of two more staff members: a charge nurse on the medical surgical floor and a charge nurse on the intensive care unit.
‘I had to find another reason’
Parker remembers the early days of the pandemic, when nobody in the world knew what they were dealing with or what was coming.
Back then, she was still a respiratory therapist at Northwest Hospital in Randallstown, where she worked for 16 years. Staff were doing everything they could to treat their coronavirus patients, but nothing was working. Despite their best efforts — and the efforts of the medical center’s specialty pulmonologist and intensive care unit intensivist — they were losing a lot of patients.
Before the pandemic, Parker was used to being able to help her patients. They’d come into the emergency department, short of breath, and she’d give them oxygen or a breathing treatment or put them on a ventilator. It gave her “instant gratification,” watching people start feeling better almost immediately.
“With COVID, it was different,” she said. “You’re feeling a little defeated because nothing you’re doing is helping.”
Some of her coworkers started saying they didn’t sign up for this, Parker recalled. But even though she was scared for herself and her young daughter, she felt like she had.
One day, she sat with a dying patient and held an iPad in front of him, so his family could say goodbye. That’s when it hit her.
“This is why I’m doing this,” she remembers thinking. “Because I needed to be here. If I wasn’t here, doing this for this patient, then who would be here for this patient?”
Parker had transferred to Frederick Health Hospital by the time the delta variant of the coronavirus came crashing into Maryland.
This time, there was a vaccine to stave off the worst of the virus’s symptoms. But some of Parker’s patients — the same people she was putting her health and the health of her child at risk to care for — didn’t want to get vaccinated.
“I was just like, ‘Why? What’s the problem?’” she said. “I had to find another reason to be encouraged.”
Parker’s new reason emerged in pieces. One day, a state trooper pulled her over while she was driving home from the hospital a bit too quickly. When he came to her window and saw her uniform, he asked where she worked. Then, he asked what she did there. He grinned when she told him.
“‘Ma’am, I’m going to have you out here right away,’” Parker recalls him telling her. “‘And I just want to say to you, thank you for your service.’”
A little while later, she ran into some issues with her phone and called IT. After talking to the employee for almost two hours, she told him she was a respiratory therapist before getting off the line. The way he gasped, you would have thought she had just told him he was Diana Ross or Michael Jackson, she said, laughing.
These two encounters left Parker feeling rejuvenated. They also helped her realize something about why she continued going to work every day.
“Guess what? I was not doing it for those that wasn’t getting their vaccination. I was not doing it for that immediate gratification that I get from seeing that I helped the patient no longer be in respiratory distress,” she said. “It was the community. Now, it’s the community.”
There’s a hallway on the hospital’s second floor, lined with pictures and signs that children in the county have made for Frederick Health staff members.
Parker walks past the artwork each time she starts a new shift. She can recite the message on one of the signs word for word. Surrounded by drawings and stickers with gingerbread men, Santa Claus and snowmen, it reads, “You helped save our mom and she was able to come home for Christmas!”
Even though the posters have been up for months now, Parker still reads them every time she walks down the hallway.
“It pushes you through,” she said. “It really does.”
But some of Parker’s patients...didn’t want to get vaccinated.
“I was just like, ‘Why? What’s the problem?’” she said.
Perhaps, it's because the public is being lied to on a mass scale, & anyone who doesn't go along with the lie, is being fired & ostracized:
On March 10, 2022, Dr. Theresa Long, a US military flight surgeon who holds a master’s degree in Public Health and is specially trained in the DMED, gave emotional testimony on the explosive data which she & two other flight surgeons discovered & was commanded by top brass to keep silent about: The Covid vaccines have killed more US soldiers than Covid did.
Military Doctor Testifies in Court That She Was Ordered to Cover Up & Suppress Huge Amount of Covid-19 Vaccine Injuries
By THE EXPOSÉ on MARCH 25, 2022
According to the Expose reference cited, they are censored by multiple social media sites presumably for potentially harmful misinformation?
Yes Siree, Grammy, truthful, factual court testimony is "harmful" to our totalitarian goverment's goal to make us dependent on them.
It is interesting how much censorship there has been by Big Government and Social Media companies by labelling posts and stories as "disinformation" - only to have many of those stories proven to be true.
I love your performance art, art.
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