CARROLLTON, Ga. - Tanner Medical Center nurses Haley Taylor and Abi Knight say the early days of the pandemic were the hardest inside their Carrollton, Georgia, hospital.
"It was just the unknown," Abi Knight says. "In the beginning, it was something we had never faced, we had never seen."
Knight is a nurse manager, who was assigned to Tanner Medical's first COVID-19 unit in the early days of the pandemic.
She says they had no textbook or map to guide them, so they pulled together and helped each other.
"I am really thankful for healthcare providers this year, for my staff," she says. "I'll say that what stands out in my mind this year is just their resilience. Unless you've walked in their shoes, you can't understand.”
The night they received their first COVID-19 patient, she Knight says she didn’t know what to expect.
"I remember driving in and thinking, 'You're the leader. You have to be calm.' Even though I kind of wanted to just keep driving. I think really in times like this you've got to reach deep and know what you have to do.”
The hardest few months of her career, she says, have helped her find her purpose.
"This is a passion, a calling, and I'm doing what I'm supposed to do, and I'm where I'm supposed to be," Knight says.
Haley Taylor, an infection preventionist who also works with COVID-19 patients, says she has seen a lot of uncertainty but also a lot of courage.
"I'm grateful for our community," Taylor says. "I'm grateful for our hospital system, Tanner. I'm thankful, of course, for my family. They prayed for me, and they wanted to make sure that I was safe, because I was inside the hospital."
What stands out to her is the teamwork involved in caring for patients.
"I am proud of my profession like I have never been before," Taylor says.
She is also proud of herself.
"I have accomplished more than I knew I could," Taylor says. "I've been pushed. I've had to get definitely out of my comfort zone."
Knight’s and Taylor's stories are being highlighted in the Georgia Hospital Association's "Thank a Hospital Hero" campaign this month.
The association is asking Georgians to pay it forward and honor hospital workers by doing something nice for someone else and sharing it on social media, using the hashtag #ThankAHospitalHero.
Taylor, who has devoted the last few months to making sure her coworkers have the PPE they need to protect themselves, says she also wants to urge Georgians to do everything they can to slow the spread of the virus.
"The biggest thing I would like to say today is that people wear their masks," Taylor says.
Abi Knight says she wants to tell other healthcare workers to hang in there and take care of each other.
"If you have a health care provider you know or love, I would check on them," Knight says. "They're weary. They're tired. I would just check on them at this time."
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