Even though there is now a vaccine for COVID-19, many nurses and doctors warn people to not let down their guard. State health experts said it could take several months before everyone is able to have access to the vaccine.
"I don't think we realized we'd still be doing this eight months from last March, but we are,” said Clinical Manager of Respiratory Care Units & COVID Units, Kellie Brewer.
Brewer said she vividly remembers getting a phone call on March 22nd, saying her medical floors were chosen to flip for COVID-19 patients. Now she and hundreds of staff solely care for COVID-19 patients every single day.
“We've dealt with death over the years but not in a sense of not having family right by your side," Brewer.
Brewer has worked at St. Francis for 34 years and was one of the first to get the vaccine.
She said even though it's exciting, knowing there's another layer of protection, it's not time to let your guard down.
"Just because I got the vaccine doesn't mean I am going to a large gathering tonight and say oh I am good," said Brewer.
Brewer said it's discouraging as a nurse to see people gathering and not wearing masks. She said it's especially discouraging when she’s watched patients die alone.
"I think people just need to think beyond themselves and think about other people,” said Brewer.
St. Francis currently has 210 COVID-19 patients system-wide and four floors at their main hospital are completely dedicated to COVID-19 Patients.
"We started out with two floors and little by little we've had to meet the needs of the community,” said Brewer.
Although the pace hasn't slowed down, Brewer said she's thankful to have her co-workers to lean on.
"We have a little something special that goes on here,” said Brewer “Especially when times get tough like they have been the past eight months."
Brewer will go back for her second dose of the vaccine on January 5.