‘It’s kind of scary out there for us’: Topeka nurses describe working in the coronavirus frontline


TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT)– Nurses and doctors are directly on the front lines of this coronavirus fight.

Katie Northup is a working mom who’s been a nurse for about eight years, working in the ICU at different hospitals in Northeast Kansas. Just 10 months ago, she moved to a clinic to have more time to spend with her family. Then, things changed.

“I just really had it on my heart that since I have that skill set, I should go back and help,” Northup said. “That’s what I feel is the right thing to do.”

When the coronavirus hit Kansas and Shawnee County, Katie decided it was her time to go back to help in the ICU, something she felt she had to do. So far, she’s only worked in the coronavirus unit for three shifts.

“The seriousness of some of the things I saw this week were really eye-opening,” Northup said. “I just want everybody to know that this is real, that this is in our community. It is here and it’s time for us to…seriously stay home. Unless you absolutely can’t. Keep yourself and your loved ones safe because no one else can do that for you.”

Then, there are nurses like Lisa Smith who have been through many things over the past 25 plus years working in the hospitals. She said she has never seen anything like this pandemic.

“Never would we have expected to be at a point where we are reusing our PPE equipment,” Smith said. “Wiping our gowns down. Wiping our face shields off and using them again.”

With the nationwide shortage of test kits and protective equipment, nurses, doctors and hospitals aren’t properly prepared.

“It is kind of scary for us out there,” Smith said. “No matter how long we’ve been doing it. For the new nurses that just started, or those of us that have been doing it long enough. We would not have expected that we wouldn’t have the protection that we need.”

Both Northup and Smith are on the frontline with many others during this coronavirus pandemic, seeing things everyday people aren’t seeing with this virus first hand.

“We all have a role in this,” Northup said. “Whether it be staying home and taking care of your loved ones. Or it’s being in those frontlines. Every one of us is important in this battle.”

Northup and Smith said many people have thanked them and other healthcare workers for the hard work they’ve done. They said another way people can show their gratitude, is to do your part in preventing this virus from spreading.

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