ICU Nurses Thank Mercer Medical for Preparing Them for Pandemic

Pictured are 2019 Mercer Nursing Graduate Erica Haywood ( screen left) and 2018 Mercer Nursing Graduate Victoria Collins (screen right); both are working in NYC as ICU Nurses in the fight against COVID-19.

From Georgia to New York, these two Mercer Bears have left home to work in one of the nations biggest hot spots for the COVID-19 crisis: New York City.

“Right now, all of these patients are like strictly COVID patients. So it’s like you kind of just master a routine of how to care for them. This is very different,” said Erica Haywood, a 2019 graduate of Mercer’s nursing program.

Fellow Bear Victoria Collins, a 2018 graduate of Mercer University’s program, is also working on assignment, caring for COVID-19 patients in New York. She, too, says offering specialized care from patient to patient, has been a major part of her job.

“We’re having to treat each patient very individually based off of whether or not they also have diabetes or congestive heart failure, whether or not they’re HIV positive,” said Collins. “It’s a daily process of coming up literally with a new game plan for each and every patient based off of their current condition.”

With the ever-evolving uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, both women say they wouldn’t have the confidence to care for the most vulnerable, had it not been for their education with Mercer University’s nursing program.

“Because so many patients are sick, and on so many different medications, usually with patients, we’ll run their medications through their IV using a pump and you just kind of program it and it does everything for you. We have a shortage of pumps,” said Collins. “And one thing that Mercer, Georgia College of Nursing specifically, really drilled into us. And we got tested on every semester and had to make a 90 or above on the test was to learn how to do this kind of stuff manually without the pump in this just in a situation where we didn’t have pumps available. And I’ve had to do that, like every day. So I’m very grateful for that skill for sure.”

“I’m very proud alumni from that school because I just feel like I’m very comfortable with my skills across the board, Mercer taught me how to be involved in different nursing organizations. And I mean, just the knowledge we received from them. It’s just amazing,” said Haywood.

But what’s helping to make these former Bears stand out isn’t just centered around the medical education they received at Mercer, but the bedside manner and empathy that they were also taught to have.

“They taught me to make sure to pay attention to the little things to treat the patient, not machines and so this is a really hard time for these patients because not only are they sick, and they’re scared, and a lot of them know that they’re dying, they can’t have their loved ones come and see them. And so you’re adding this entire extra emotion of loneliness and helplessness to the process of while they’re dying,” said Collins. “So I’ve, we’ve done little things for them like play music and dance with them even though they’re like semi out of it. We had one patient whose family gathered outside on the street and we didn’t have a room available where we could get him to a window. We just pushed him into the hallway area where the window could see them. And they all have signs and balloons, and then we’re waiting to him from the street. I painted my patients toenails the other day, just to make sure she felt better. Like little things like that. And our professors really did drill that into us.”

Erica Haywood and Victoria Collins, two Bears, changing the world, one patient at a time.