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UF Health frontline workers reflect back on one year of COVID-19 in NCFL

Published: Mar. 11, 2021 at 3:28 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - COVID-19: the virus that reshaped healthcare forever for the doctors, nurses and all other healthcare workers. It’s officially been one year since UF Health Shands confirmed it’s first case of a patient with COVID-19.

TV20′s Amber Pellicone spoke with several front-line workers to talk about how the pandemic has shaped their lives in and outside of the hospital.

RELATED STORY: The year of the virus: How COVID-19 shaped 2020

No amount of training could prepare frontline workers like, Division Chief for Hospital Medicine Doctor Nika Radhakrishnan and Nurse Manager Grace Mayne, for those initial moment, days, and weeks.

“I think in those early days, everyone came together to really fight this new disease. None of us had ever cared for a patient with COVID-19,” said Dr. Radhakrishnan.

“The staff they were terrified. I don’t think we thought we would’ve survived a whole entire year of the pandemic,” said Mayne.

RELATED STORY: UF Health one of few hospitals to complete COVID-19 related double lung transplants

But they persevered by suiting up head-to-toe in personal protective equipment each day to treat their patients.

“I’ve seen the fear in the patients eyes. When you see these patients face to face you see the impact,” said Dr. Radhakrishnan. “I can’t even imagine. You hear about this on the news, you hear about it every day, and now you’re in the hospital with this very serious illness.”

“I can remember one man in particular. I had to go in because he was just so terrified and he said ‘I understand. I’m still scared, but I’m glad you’re here,’ and I got emotional,” said Mayne.

They say coming together as a team was what helps push them through the difficult times.

“But we knew that with teamwork, with science, with expertise and with compassion we figured that we would be able to care for these patients and give them the best that we had to offer,” Dr. Radhakrishnan said. “So the expertise that’s been developed here is really remarkable.”

“I think resilience is the biggest takeaway,” said Mayne. “It’s been exhausting and overwhelming, but we know we can do this, we’ve been through so much but we still find times for smiles and I think it’s the team work that’s made us survive.”

RELATED STORY: Less than 50% of UF Health employees have received COVID-19 vaccine

With vaccines becoming more widely available, they said they see a light at the end of the tunnel.

“You just feel the burden of we’ve been at this the whole year. We can see the end is near with the vaccine but we’re still going through it,” said Mayne.

“I have seen in this past year the best of humanity coming to the bedside to help these patients through this very frightening disease,” Dr. Radhakrishnan said.

March 2020:

First case of COVID-19 confirmed in Alachua County (March 10)

Confirmed coronavirus case at UF Health Shands Hospital (March 11)

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