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Avera Medical Minute: Nursing students fitted for PPE, allowing them to work with COVID patients

Published: Jan. 12, 2021 at 6:07 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - While watching nursing students put on protective gear may looking confining, it actually brings them freedom. The freedom to work in a real hospital setting caring for COVID patients at Avera McKennan Hospital.

SDSU Nursing student Danielle Emmett was reassured by the tight fit.

“We basically try on our N-95 mask and then they spray some spray to make sure that none of that spray gets through the mask we can’t taste it, we can’t smell it. And they’ll test different sizes and make sure that you’re getting fit for the right one,” said Emmett.

Another student, Eastlyn Fell, hopes to work in the ER someday. Getting fitted for PPE brings her goal one step closer.

“I was expecting the hood to be a little bit bigger. It was pretty small, so I was getting a little nervous while in there and then I was just nervous that I wouldn’t have a mask that would fit. So it’s my biggest nerve when coming in,” said Fell.

Before the pandemic, Avera Director of Nursing Integration Darcy Sherman-Justice remembers how it was normal to have up to 400 nursing students on the Avera campus.

“With the COVID pandemic, nursing students were either furloughed from the clinical practice area or when they returned in June, they were not able to care for COVID patients,” said Sherman-Justice.

The protective gear enables the students to come back to many areas.

“In the intensive care unit in the emergency department our surgical trauma, cardiopulmonary, they really can care for COVID patients anywhere,” said Sherman-Justice.

The partnership allows learning in real-life medical situations, different from textbooks or in class.

“It is probably where you’ll learn the most so to really like take the privilege of the fact that we still get to be in clinical and we still get to be in the hospital and really take some time to learn from these nurses that are willing to teach you,” said Emmett.

“An opportunity for us in a big way. We get to work with COVID patients, just like we would when we actually start working as nurses so it’s very exciting to be able to do that,” said Fell.

Becoming a nurse during the pandemic can be seen as being at the right place, at the right time, to impact lives.

“It’s scary but it’s all very, very rewarding,” said Emmett.

“I just became a nurse because I want to help people and right now. COVID is the big thing going on in the country, so it’s just knowing that you’re doing what you want to do and it’s just helping people that need help,” said Fell.

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