Seeing COVID-19 from another medical perspective

Lauren Tolbert Photo

Lauren Tolbert knows that social distancing and isolation creates more obstacles in recovery.

Winston-Salem, N.C. When Lauren Tolbert, licensed practical nurse decided to go to nursing school at Forsyth Tech, it was an inner calling for her. She wanted to work specifically with alcohol and chemically dependent patients because she can relate to what they are going through. She has seen addiction impact many of the lives around her including herself. February 20, 2020 marked her sixth anniversary of being clean.

Now during COVID-19, she’s serving on the front lines at the Addiction Recovery Care Association (ARCA) in Winston-Salem. For alcohol and chemically-dependent individuals who count on social support for their physical, mental and emotional recovery, the isolation effects of COVID-19 can be extremely difficult. The staff at ARCA have had to make several changes that limit their personal interaction during COVID-19.

“We are taking all the recommended precautions to observe social distancing in the dining hall and classrooms, wearing masks, using proper handwashing protocols and taking staff temperatures before entering the facility“ said Lauren Tolbert, licensed practical nurse.
Tolbert said, “It’s hard on patients since this is the first time that many of them have sought help for substance use disorders. They are tasked with learning to use the 12-step program, while focusing on other substance use dependency issues. Most treatment facilities have stopped face-to-face meetings and have expanded their telehealth capacity to include virtual meetings online. COVID-19 has resulted in restricted protocols that excludes visitation, family groups and drop-offs.”

“I love what I do and it’s rewarding to feel that I am making a difference as a nurse,” said Tolbert. “COVID-19 is unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before especially since you don’t know who might be carrying the virus. The safety recommendations are common sense. Handwashing is what we should always do to protect ourselves from germs.”

Before becoming a nurse, Tolbert took care of her father, a two-time cancer survivor, while undergoing radiation, while she was going to school fulltime. Tolbert was also an Emergency Medical Technician for three years and then a Certified Nursing Assistant for three years. Yet, Tolbert she had always wanted to be a nurse. She graduated from the Paul M. Wiles School of Nursing at Forsyth Technical Community College in 2018.

“I feel that my experiences as an EMT and a CNA prepared me well for nursing school,” Tolbert said. “The instructors at Forsyth Tech were great and gave us everything we needed for success. It was difficult, but if you show up on time and follow what you are supposed to do, you will succeed. You have to love what you do and have your heart in it, and that’s how I feel about nursing.”

Angie Lundgren, department chair of the practical nursing program at Forsyth Tech said, “Lauren is a great example of how Forsyth Tech can change people’s lives. She was an excellent student, determined to graduate and become a nurse despite her past. Lauren is in a nursing position that is a true passion for her. She knows what the patients have been through and she is there to help them recover each and every day.”

At Forsyth Tech, the Practical Nursing curriculum provides knowledge and skills to integrate safety and quality into nursing care to meet the needs of the holistic individual which impact health, quality of life, and achievement of potential.
Course work includes and builds upon the domains of healthcare, nursing practice, and the holistic individual. Content emphasizes safe, individualized nursing care and participation in the interdisciplinary team while employing evidence-based practice, quality improvement, and informatics.
The Forsyth Technical Community College Associate Degree in Nursing and Practical Nursing diploma programs are accredited by the National League for Nursing Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (NLN CNEA) located at 2600 Virginia Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20037, 202-909-2526.