2020 Heroes: Heather Parish, ER Nurse

Heather Parish ER nurse Photo by Amber Shumake

Amber Shumake visited some of the people working in health care taking care of COVID-19 patients. Each day we’ll publish one of the stories she found:

Heather Parish

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ER nurse

Texas Health Southwest Fort Worth

“I like to be a calming force in the middle of the chaos.”

How has it been for you?

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It’s stressful and it’s frustrating. The changing, every …  there for a while, things were changing multiple times a day. And so just to stay on top of things, we’re protecting ourselves and doing the best thing for our patients. So that’s been difficult.

It’s very isolating. A lot of us have children and families that we’ve self-isolated from, me included. And so, that’s really hard because you go from having a normal family life to all of a sudden, you’re kind of by yourself. That’s tough.

Never have I ever been like a pariah, a social pariah to people. You go to the store … Like I never go to the store in my scrubs anymore, because … and then, I don’t know, they just look at you differently and they take off. They don’t- … It’s just very strange. We’re probably some of the safest people to be around, because we’re constantly covered up and we protect yourselves.

In general, people have treated us extremely well, been very respectful and nice and thankful for what we’re doing.

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You’re isolating from your children?

My daughter, yeah. She’s 13.

What changes has it meant for you at work?

I think it’s made us, here in the ER, work better as a team and we’ve become closer, I think.

What should public know about COVID-19?

It’s real. I know it’s real. Yeah. It’s a very real thing and please take it seriously.

What would you recommend people do, particularly around the elderly?

I mean, honestly, if you really care for their wellbeing, stay away from them. I mean, make sure they have everything that they need, obviously, and their safety is of importance. But if you’re out in the world and you’re getting exposed … Someone younger, like us, we can be okay. But some of them with a compromised immune system or elderly or someone with respiratory issues, if they get this, I mean, that can be a death sentence.

Any other comments?

I think people are just scared, and that’s understandable, because none of us in our lifetime has been through a pandemic.

– Reporting and photography by Amber Shumake