We’re closing in on two years since COVID-19 hit southwest Oklahoma. So, we caught up with some nurses at Comanche County Memorial Hospital to see how they’re doing and what they’ve learned since the start of the pandemic.

“We have good and bad days,” said LPN Tori O’Daniel. “It’s difficult watching COVID patients, but it’s also a blessing to know that you made an improvement in their life as well.”

O’Daniel wasn’t even a nurse when the pandemic started. She began nursing school in August of 20-20, so she kinda knew what she was getting into.

“You learn a lot more in-depth when you’re actually doing it than when you’re hands-on practicing on a mannequin,” O’Daniel said.She said what’s surprised her the most is seeing how effectively things work and how quickly things can change. O’Daniel said it’s hard not knowing how her patients will be from the end of one shift to the start of another.

“They can take a turn for the worst,” she said. “But they can also improve at the same time just as quick as they can decline.”

That’s something Tamara Clemons has seen many times as she’s been a nurse for almost 30 years.

She said years ago she quit her job at Mcdonald’s after getting great care while delivering her baby, and some persistence from a nurse who took care of her. Clemons wanted to like them.

“I just don’t want to be there to give people patient care,” said Clemons. “Yes, I do, but I want to be impactful. I want to be empowered by people. I want to change people’s lives to what they want to become to be better themselves.”

And this pandemic hasn’t lessened her drive to help others or made her think about quitting, as she joked she’s planning to be a nurse for another 27 years.

“Eventually, I will, but I love nursing so much. I love taking care of patients; this is a part of my life,” she said. “Not only is it my life, but it’s truly something God has called me to do.”

Chris Ward, the Chief Nursing Officer at CCMH, said sometimes people think of nurses as just being bedside nurses, but he says they’re so much more than that.

“There’s the importance of communicating with the doctor how the patient is doing with the therapies that they’re getting,” Ward said. “There’s also the fact that they are a comfort giver. They are the compassion at the bedside. I went into nursing knowing that I could make a difference in how I treated people and the fact that people want to know that there is a caring person.”

Leaning on co-workers and coming together as a team is what helps them get through as they’re short-staffed, just like many hospitals across the nation.

“I believe our team is working together phenomenally,” he said. “It’s amazing to see the adaptability that we’ve had in this COVID time, as well as treatment, has changed and advanced during the COVID pandemic.”

“Even though we’re short-staffed, we always make do and help each other in every best way we can,” O’Daniel said. “Sometimes we have to help another with a med-pass, or they help you change your patient. It’s just a team effort. We have to do everything together to make it through the 12 hours.”

Ward said they’re trying to get more nurses by offering sign-on bonuses. If you’d like more information, you can visit CCMH’s website.