(KERO) — Nurses across the country are the heartbeat of hospitals, especially during the pandemic when hospitals were flooded with COVID patients and their families in what was a trying time for so many people.
Thursday is the first day of Nurse's Appreciation Week.
So 23ABC wanted to make sure we stopped and took a second to thank and to recognize nurses right here in our community for their hard work, compassion, and dedication to their job.
Payal, Emily, and Amy are all nurses at Mercy Hospital in Downtown Bakersfield, but they have more in common than their jobs, they all have memories from the COVID-19 pandemic that they will never forget.
I remember the first patient that we got and I volunteered to take her because it was scary and nobody knows what to expect. Everyone was like what are we going to do and it just happens that I was able to step up and I remember having to call my parents on my lunch break and kind of preparing them that you heard about this-it's in the news and we were prepared that we were going to get those patients eventually but guess what now that patient is my patient, said Payal.
For Emily, her lifelong memory started on a Sunday.
I'll never forget it. I had one patient that had to go to ICU, one patient, unfortunately, passed away that day, and then one patient went home. And then one patient was still there. So it was just kind of a whirlwind of emotions that day.
During those tough and uncertain times, there was one thing that brought each of these nurses comfort, family.
Just being able to not go home alone and be with family and see them every day and their support definitely made it bearable, said Payal.
But Payal was also worried about her family and what would happen if she became ill.
Every day was, 'Am I going to take this home to my parents? Am I going to get it myself? What is it going to look like if I get it?'
For Emily, she says the highlight of her nursing days continue to be getting to know her patients.
Because you get to be with them when family might not be able to and be their support when others can't be.
Amy says before her shift she always takes a moment to stop and pray.
I usually say a prayer to just help me to take care of my patients help me to love them the way that God loves them.
For these three nurses, family extends outside of their homes, which they also credit helping them manage everything the pandemic has thrown their way.
The teamwork and the family that we have here is what definitely kept us sane.
Now as things start to return to normal, each of these nurses says they have taken something away from the experience of a lifetime.
Emily says to any future nurses expect the unexpected and for her, she wants to continue to bring "compassion and a sense of humor for me is big in healing."
Payal is back in school working towards her master's and says seeing public health change has inspired her.
It's kind of one of those gut feelings that this is what you want to do.
Amy says it was a privilege to take care of so many patients, and she will continue to care for not just her patients but also their families.
Everybody's different everybody has a story and you've got to be invested in their story and you've got to be invested in their health and helping them heal.