Healthcare Heroes


Nelson pictured in her gear at work.

Shelby Moquin, Editor

On the frontlines fighting COVID are our healthcare heroes. They are our mothers, sisters, brothers, fiances, neighbors, and so much more than just a face behind a mask. When we go to work, they go to work ten times harder. These heroes not only save lives but put their own at risk. 

Kellie Nelson is a radiologic technologist in the adult cardiac cath lab at UIHC. Her unit is the “heart attack team” and is available 24/7 for any cardiac emergencies. Since the arrival of COVID into her world, she has faced many challenges. 

“The biggest challenge we are facing is making sure we have enough beds and staff to staff them. ICU beds aren’t just for covid…we see so many critically ill patients in Iowa City,” Nelson said. “Most of the time, we are basically at capacity so when you add COVID patients into the mix it’s even harder to get a bed on an inpatient floor.”

Other challenges Nelson faces are working quickly during emergencies because of the PPE they wear and the extra safety measures implemented, as well as the ER being backed up.

“COVID has also been linked to abnormal clotting of the blood-which can cause a pulmonary embolism, stroke, heart attacks, etc,” Nelson also noted. 

Working daily in conditions like our healthcare heroes do  take a toll on the body and mind. COVID has been around for months, and when parts of the globe shut down and we were all home quarantining, these nurses and doctors were out on the medical battlefield. Masks up and doing their absolute best.

“Yes, I am scared to go to work. I am afraid of testing positive and leaving my unit that’s already short-staffed for 10 days and possibly infecting my family and friends,” commented Nelson. “I know what I signed up for when I went into this field-but no one signed up for this.”

There has been a tremendous uptick in cases, hospitzalitions, ventilator usage, and deaths all over the state of Iowa. Thousands of new cases are being reported daily. Governor Kim Reynolds released a new proclamation on November 16th expanding the state’s mask mandate and limiting public gatherings in gyms and bars. This is in effect until December 10th. 

“We have been wearing masks forever in healthcare and that’s because they work. Do what’s right. I have seen COVID patients crying out about how hard it is to breathe with no family by their side for comfort. It’s devastating,” Nelson said. 

Nelson realizes the need for people to know more about their healthcare system, since many lives depend on it today. Hospitals currently are learning the limits of the workload they can handle. Experts at The Atlantic as well as ProPublica believe that Iowa’s healthcare system will soon collapse under the mounting pressure from COVID. 

“Healthcare workers want life to go back to normal just as much as everyone else. I miss my friends, family and doing fun things,” vocalized Nelson. “However if we don’t do what’s right, it only gets worse from here.”