Perspective | Forsyth Technical Community College alumna shares her story of the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic

When you walk into the employee entrance of Novant Health Medical Center right now, there are several chalk messages on the sidewalk. One reads, “Heroes work here.” Never in our lifetime have we seen the need for health care providers as we have now. They are truly heroes as they serve on the front lines in hospitals helping fight the coronavirus.

Courtney HaldemanCourtney Haldeman, a nursing graduate from Forsyth Technical Community College, is now a resource nurse in the Intensive Care COVID-19 Unit at Novant Health in Winston-Salem. She received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of North Carolina Greensboro and is back in school at UNCG to be a Nurse Practitioner (NP) in their Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. In March, like all schools, colleges, and universities, all face-to-face classes were moved online.

Haldeman says she was always proud to be a nurse, but now her pride runs much deeper.

“I’ve seen some wonderful things happening in spite of this very stressful time,” Haldeman said. “Nurses have been pulled from other units to fill in on the COVID-19 unit and the teamwork is amazing. Managers who worked in different units are coming together to manage this COVID-19 unit to be sure it is staffed appropriately and that the unit has what it needs to care for the patients and help fight this virus.”

Haldeman explains that since some surgeries have been cancelled due to the pandemic, nurses from other units can serve on the COVID-19 unit. In addition, there are usually fewer hospitalizations during the spring. Overall, the hospital has more beds available that can be used for COVID-19 patients. Haldeman said it was a total shock with how quickly the pandemic set in.

Treating patients is hard enough but magnify the job with the limitation on visitors.

“As nurses, we care about the patients’ families too, so it’s difficult now that COVID-19 patients cannot have any visitors,” Haldeman said. “In the last moments of life, only one family member may be with the patient. For us, it is a moral conflict, not having the whole family there. I have tremendous respect for what the patients and families are going through.”

Nurses are also limited on visits with their own families. “I have telephone calls and video chats with my mom, but I haven’t seen her since the stay-at-home orders began,” Haldeman said. “I miss seeing her, but I want to be extremely careful.”

Throughout this time, Haldeman said the nurses have been amazed at the community outreach and support. “I guess it was eye-opening for the community to see what we do each day,” she said. “Not only are the sidewalks filled with chalk messages, we get snacks and meals from churches and families and we appreciate it so much.”

In her own words, Haldeman shared what happened at Novant Health last month:

Police Cars lined up to cheer on health care workers“On April 3, the police department performed an event called the ‘Circle of Hope’ where they drove in front of the hospital with their sirens on to salute the health care team for the upcoming battle. On April 20, all of the local fire departments performed the ‘Circle of Fire’ where they drove through the front of the hospital with their sirens on, honking their horns in admiration, while waving and saluting the health care team while we are fighting the battle. They then lined up the vehicles, stepped out of the trucks, and cheered for the hospital. Watching these moments were breathtaking and uplifting. For such admirable and respected professions to support and cheer on health care professionals is a moment I will never forget. This is such a difficult time for nurses and to receive support from the community and professionals like the police department and fire department is indescribable. They risk their lives every day, and they made it a priority to show their respect and support for our profession. I have never been prouder to be a nurse!”.
Fire Trucks and Fire Men Cheering on Novant's health care workers

“Forsyth Tech is proud of all our health technology graduates now serving on the front lines to protect us during COVID-19,” Linda Latham, dean of health technologies at Forsyth Tech, said. “Courtney is one of many of our nurse alumni who are employed by Novant Health and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centers and who give selflessly to our community every day.”

Both the Forsyth Tech Community College Associate Degree Nursing and Practical Nursing diploma programs are accredited by the National League for Nursing Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (NLN CNEA).

Forsyth Tech also partners with Winston-Salem State University in the dual enrollment Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses (RIBN) Program to encourage beginning students and Licensed Practical Nurses to earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

Judi Saint Sing
Judi Saint Sing is public relations manager for Forsyth Technical Community College.

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