Philadelphia nurses talk about their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic

This week is National Nurses Week and with the coronavirus, celebrating these nurses is even more important than ever.

While these nurses and doctors work the front lines to keep people safe and prevent the spread of the virus to others, they have seen the true impact that this pandemic has had not only on others but on themselves.

FOX 29’s Jenn Frederick talked to two nurses about their experiences fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and working on the front lines.

Renee Turner Thorpe has been a NICU nurse at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for the last 42 years.


She had been through the ups and downs of working in a hospital but knows now more than ever, how the moms and dads of these newborns need her help. They also wear special buttons on their uniforms.

“We wear the masks, sometimes we wear these buttons so the babies will see our faces and everybody else on the staff can see what our smiles look like,” explained Thorpe.

When asked about her job, Thorpe says that they are usually grateful for her work but she knows that this is exactly where she is supposed to be, even during a pandemic.

“This is my first pandemic. I think it makes me feel proud to be a nurse at this time, to be able to do something for the patients and this kind of environment. When I go home, I’m actually very thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to care for these patients,” said Thorpe.

Kate Andrews works around the corner at Jefferson University Hospital as a nurse for the surgical trauma ICU team.

While she is currently working in the middle of the pandemic to help save lives, she is preparing for a new life of her own to come into the world.

“I am currently about 31 weeks pregnant. The support has been tremendous as I’ve been pregnant. I’ve had coworkers offer to donate vacation time so that when this was all coming out and there was a lot of unknowns," said Andrews. "They said maybe you should stay home and I’ll donate my vacation time to you so you don’t have to be in this environment and just prepare and take care of yourself while you are getting ready for the baby. So it’s just been amazing."

While other nurses were trying to help her and get her to stay home, Andrews knew that she had to be on the front lines working.


She knows that many of the families that are visiting the ICU units cannot have visitors with them.

“We’re a little used to that, being in that environment. These are traumatic, unexpected events most of the time that are happening," Andrews added. "You take the families out of the picture and they’re not allowed to visit, it’s a whole other stress for them and I can’t imagine what they go through.”

Andrews says that the staff at Jefferson University Hospital do their best to keep families up to date when are not allowed to be with their loved ones, but it’s tough.

“We do our best to call, we FaceTime, keep the families up to date but I think that’s definitely the biggest challenge and the hardest part," she added.

Kate and her wife are expecting their baby in early July.


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