Health Care Hero stories: From fighting on the frontlines to getting the virus

Published: Nov. 18, 2020 at 6:04 PM CST
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - A nurse at the Medical Center is opening up about her experience working the COVID unit and then catching the virus herself.

Courtney Calloway has been with the Medical Center for 19 years and began working in the COVID unit last spring.

“You see these patients come in with milder symptoms, and then you see them progressively get sicker,” she said.

While working in the COVID unit, Calloway tested positive for the virus in May and was isolated from her family for weeks. She recalls the moment she saw that her test result came back positive.

“And it was truly like, just a terrifying moment,” she said. “I’ve got four kids, and just to see them, look at me through the glass door and know that they couldn’t be around me for two weeks. It was scary.”

Treating some of the sickest COVID patients, her experience led her mind down dark paths.

“A nurse working in it, I was terrified, because I had seen the ramifications of it and seeing what it was doing to people and I had actually just lost an uncle from COVID,” said Calloway.

While Calloway was never hospitalized, she said symptoms still linger six months later.

“The joint pain, I’m still dealing with that with my physician,” said Calloway. “We’re monitoring some of my blood levels, and they’re still elevated.”

She also cited brain fog that impacted her for months after the virus.

“The first couple of months, it was like I was in a daze all the time it was it was wild.”

Even after her antibodies have worn off, Calloway is back working the COVID unit on the weekends and works in the Infection Prevention department during the week.

From treating it, to getting it, to treating it again. A nurse’s job goes far beyond treatment, especially in the COVID unit.

“It truly is the nurses that get to spend those few moments with the patients and hopefully make an impact.”

That impact though comes at a cost; however, it’s one that won’t keep a healthcare hero away, as they are warriors after all.

“I think we’re all going to have to go through almost a grieving process after this is all over with,” said Calloway. “There will be nurses that have PTSD from it.”

There are currently 41 patients in the COVID unit, which is down from last week.

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