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Baptist Memorial Hospital nurse shares experience treating coronavirus patients

Heidi Higginbotham works in the cardiovascular ICU, an area where COVID-19 patients are being treated

MEMPHIS, Tennessee —

Every day, thousands of healthcare workers in the Mid-South are putting their lives on the line, treating those patients diagnosed with coronavirus.

A total of 31 patients who have coronavirus have been admitted to Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis since the start of this pandemic. Heidi Higginbotham works in the cardiovascular intensive care unit there and has treated patients with the virus.

“I would be lying if I said that I didn’t get nervous and I think that’s true of all of us because this is such a threat that we are unfamiliar with,” Higginbotham said.

She writes a Bible scripture on her arm before every shift at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis to remind her, this mission is bigger than herself. 

“I want to be well equipped by God to do my job and do it well, because there’s a lot of the unknown out there,” Higginbotham explained.

For the past month, she has been working additional hours in the cardiovascular ICU. 

“We have seen people go from relatively healthy to decompensating as we call it, dying, we have seen people not have good outcomes,” Higginbotham said.

Her unit was outfitted to take care of some high risk COVID-19 patients. Many of the rooms in her unit were transformed to negative pressure rooms.

“When you open the door, you don’t get that big burst of air out towards you. It kind of pulls the air back in which prevents the spread of airborne illnesses,” Higginbotham explained.

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And it also allows doctors to perform surgeries in those rooms. Higginbotham says it has been a trying time, but it has brought her unit closer.

“It’s been amazing to see all of my coworkers come together to become even better clinicians,” she said. “We are going to carry a lot of these lessons into our practice after the curve has flattened so to speak.” 

A spokesperson for Baptist Memorial Hospital says the mandatory overtime for nurses ended two weeks ago.