Nurse Kelly at work

Honoring Nurses and Those Who Love Them

Kelly at work-evening cityscape behind her

May 6 is National Nurses Day—a time for us to honor nurses and recognize the important role they play in our society.

Seldom have they been in the spotlight so much as this year in the fight against COVID-19. Seldom have they achieved such superstar status. It comes from their willingness to endanger themselves by caring for those suffering or recovering from the dreaded COVID-19 disease.

For those who have loved ones that are nurses, this is a harrowing time. One such person is Senior Member Services Representative Maureen, who has been serving you at GLE for 18 years. Her daughter Kelly is a traveling RN who takes short-term assignments throughout the country. For the past six months, Kelly has lived near Seattle, Washington, and worked at a hospital caring for COVID patients since the crisis struck.

Kelly, who was raised in Newaygo, acknowledges that her grandmother—also a nurse, and someone who Kelly lived next door to and so grew up loving and admiring—played a part in her choice of profession. But she laughs that so did the apocalyptic-themed movies that were all the rage while she was in high school. (Think World War Z and Hunger Games.) She was drawn to the idea of being useful and able to help people, and to the physiology and problem-solving of treating disease or injury.

After getting her nursing degree at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, she took her first job at Spectrum Hospital in Fremont. Looking for more challenges, she moved to Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, then decided to try “travel nursing,” which allowed her to practice her profession wherever she could obtain a license and there was a need for nurses.

Her first assignment in Portland, Oregon led to the next assignment in the state of Washington at a hospital just outside of Seattle. Not long after, Seattle became one of America’s first COVID hotspots. While she had resigned her contract with the Seattle hospital in March, she stayed on to help them through the crisis.

“I’m fairly young and healthy, so it makes sense for me to stay and take care of the patients we have, especially since I’m not going home after work to kids or family,” Kelly states simply.

“Of course, COVID is everywhere now,” she adds ruefully. She notes, however, that she wouldn’t want to go to New York City. “The horror stories from there are wild!”

After the COVID crisis, though, Kelly plans to use her traveling nurse status and head east. She loves to travel and observes, “(Under normal non-COVID circumstances), living somewhere for three months is enough to experience an area and much of what it has to offer.”

While now focused on doing her job well and helping people recover from COVID-19, Kelly is not overly concerned with getting sick herself. For her mom Maureen, though, it’s a different story.

“With Kelly, I have a personal stake in the game,” Maureen says. The importance of following the state-issuedKelly's proud mom Maureen mandates and following CDC guidelines are very real to Maureen.

“When I hear the stories from Kelly about people coming in with no other health conditions except that they somehow contracted COVID-19, and they likely won’t survive—well, I don’t think people have a clue how scary and insidious this disease is,” she says.

Having her daughter on the front line of this battle brings Maureen great pride, but also great worry and concern, and every reason to encourage people to adhere to the stay-at-home order.

“(Not staying home) could increase the workload and the risk for health care workers like Kelly,” Maureen explains. She appreciates being able to work from home herself at this time, as the majority of GLE employees are doing.

So let’s celebrate National Nurses Day, but take it one step further. While we honor the nurses who so bravely and capably put themselves at the front of this battle against COVID-19, let’s also remember and honor the relatives and friends who love and support our nurses.

May all of them and all reading this stay safe and well.

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