Savannah nurses on frontline of COVID battle relieved by arrival of vaccine

ByBlair CaldwellandSam Bauman|December 16, 2020 at 6:45 PM EST - Updated December 16 at 7:26 PM

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Though doctors say it will take many months for the effects of the vaccine to be seen because most of the population needs to join them, they do say protecting health care workers is a huge step.

March 20 seems like a long time ago, but that was when the first case of COVID-19 came into the Coastal Empire. It’s a moment that changed nurses as they learned how to care for patients in a new era.

“It was just something we read about, then we got one. He came in the door and we didn’t know what to do, nobody knew what to do,” said Lee Meshew, Neuro ICU nurse at Memorial Health.

Meshew has been an RN at Memorial for 33 years. She took care of the systems first COVID-19 patient.

“It was a very tense situation. You’re worried about catching it, giving it to somebody else. What are you going to do with it; and it took us ten days to get his test results,” Meshew said.

She says they got through it, and every day after they do their best. David Wilson is a nurse in the emergency room and says the virus has taken its toll on everyone.

“Physically it takes a lot more to care for these people because of the PPE you have to wear and you have to make sure that you don’t miss any steps and contaminate yourself or contaminate your next patient. Emotionally, it’s been really tough because the true COVID patients do get very sick and sometimes you feel like there’s not a whole lot you can do about it because of how dangerous the virus is,” Wilson said.

Both say they’ve watched closely as the country has learned more and become more prepared to battle the virus with rapid testing, treatment options and now a vaccine. Wilson was vaccinated before the governor Tuesday and Meshew was first in line back at Memorial. It was a big day for both of them.

“I feel so lucky I think I ought to play the lotto tonight. I feel like I should do this I have, I’m the winner. I win,” Meshew said.

But she isn’t the only nurse who was honored to be vaccinated on the first day in the Peach State. So too was Kim Raymond, an ICU nurse at Candler Hospital. She was vaccinated before the governor.

“It kind of starts with us and I was really fortunate to be able to have taken, to have been able to get the vaccine because we do work on the frontline,” Raymond said.

She knows there’s a long road ahead, but this will help frontline workers like her.

“Overtime you know a lot of people would feel better with coming into contact with patients who do have COVID and you know seeing how sick they can get and then being, having more confidence in knowing that you can care for these patients without being scared of getting it yourself,” Raymond said.

Nurses say while the vaccine is rolling out, we cannot get complacent and let our guard down because their patients depend on all of us doing our part to stop the spread.

Copyright 2020 WTOC. All rights reserved.

Photo: Getty Images

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