The Frontier community is proud to have students and alumni serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the next few weeks, we are committed to sharing their stories in order to provide insight, hope and encouragement. Thank you to all the health care workers who are risking their own well-being daily to serve our nation. Click here to read more stories of courage and dedication.
One of the mysteries of the coronavirus is how it impacts people differently. It is fatal in some, while others display few if any symptoms. Life in the midst of the pandemic impacts everyone differently as well. Some have experienced the loss of work, some have missed out on major life events like weddings and graduations, and some continue to face the risks in service to others.
Tammy Andrews, FNP-BC, APRN, Class 72, is among those healthcare heroes working on the front line. In addition to seeing the impact of the virus on patients and their loved ones, she has also felt the weight of COVID-19 on her own family.
“Anyone who works in healthcare is very conscientious about the potential of spreading this virus to their loved ones,” Tammy said. “We have a new grandbaby that is seven weeks old that we still have been unable to visit. My father has end-stage COPD and cancer and it has been very hard to decide whether to visit him or to avoid exposing him to this virus. The overall stress that this has taken on everyone physically and mentally has been huge.”
A nurse for 33 years and counting, Tammy knows what she’s talking about. Born and raised in Irvine, Ky., Tammy began her nursing career at Central Baptist Hospital in Lexington, where she worked for 16 years. She then gained her first direct experience with emergency nursing as a flight nurse for Air Methods Kentucky, an air medical transport service, for six years. Tammy next became an ER nurse at Saint Joseph Hospital in Lexington.
“Working in the ER I was able to see just how many patients did not have primary care providers and who depended on ER for their care,” Tammy said. “I loved to teach and wanted to be able to do more for my patients.”
That desire to do more led her to pursue her Master of Science in Nursing degree (MSN) at Frontier Nursing University (FNU) while continuing to work in the ER.
“When I started applying to schools I fell in love with the history of Frontier and knew that was where I wanted to attend,” Tammy said. “I still have my email with my acceptance information. I had been an associate’s degree nurse (ADN) for 23 years before returning to school. I have maintained all of my acute care certifications and I am getting ready to take the Certified Emergency Nurse examination.”
Tammy credits her training, education, and experience for preparing for the unique situations created by the pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been especially scary for us in the ER as we see all types of sick patients,” said Tammy. “However, I have always felt very safe and secure at my work. We have been appropriately educated and have had all of the PPE we need. My education and years of nursing experience have helped to prepare me for taking care of this very sick population.”
COVID-19 has obviously impacted the health of those who have contracted the virus, but it has also had health-related effects on many of those who have remained virus-free. Fear of the virus has caused many sick patients to delay needed medical care.
“The general public has been too scared to come to the emergency room and now that they are coming in they are much sicker,” Tammy said, noting that the reduction in the number of non-COVID patients has led to a reduction of patients in many hospitals and clinics.
“We are seeing half the patients we normally do and there has been a modest reduction of staff due to lack of volume. We have had a significant reduction in our hours. It is important for the public to realize that it is safe to come to the emergency room. We are taking all precautions to prevent the spread of COVID and prevent anyone from getting sicker by visiting the emergency rooms.”
While no one has all the answers, Tammy understands that the pandemic is impacting everyone in some form or fashion. She has seen it first-hand, both personally and from the front lines.