On 10-C at Piedmont Columbus Regional things have changed — dramatically.

What was once the neuroscience floor is now devoted to COVID-19 patients. It was converted as this crisis began earlier this year.

And it’s not an easy place to work 12-hour shifts. Ask the woman who is a lead nurse on that floor.

“Good days and bad days,” said Sarah Thornton. “… Almost everyone on my unit has volunteered to come up there. There has definitely been anxiety and there has been fear, But everyone has stepped up to the plate and done a great job taking care of these patients.”

And they have earned the respect of those throughout the system.

“Hats off to the 10-C staff,” said Jack Rodgers, the hospital’s interim director of emergency services. “Dressing out in full PPE is not a fun thing to do. Especially if you got to spend a long time in it. It’s uncomfortable. It’s hot. It’s difficult to do simple tasks sometimes because you have to be very aware of what you are around and what you touch.”

Across town, Aleshia Thomason is working with COVID-19 patients at St. Francis-Emory Healthcare.

“We are using lot more PPE,” said St. Francis-Emory register nurse Aleshia Thomason. “We have been fortunate enough to have the approved PPE we need to take care of our patients. I don’t think the public realizes how exhausting it becomes for 12 hours you are going in and out of these rooms.

Thomason is two years out of Albany State University. And she knows as difficult as the situation is, it could be worse. There have been more than 2,200 cases and nearly 100 deaths at Phoebe Putney, an Albany hospital she knows well.

“My heart goes out. I went to Albany State. I have friends who work down there. I call and check on them. Especially, A lot of them are in the ED (Emergency Department) down there. My heart goes out to them.

Knowing what’s happening in Albany, makes her hard job easier.

“I would say it makes my job a little easier. I think about how it could be,” Thomason said. “I think about them and what they are going through. And I think about their patients and I think about my patients. And I just go in and do what I have to do.”

Inside the Fight Against COVID-19: A six-part series

  1. A different fight: This COVID-19 battle has forced healthcare workers and institutions to do things differently. And it has stretched them.