Change: Being a nurse during a pandemic


CHI St. Vincent

Longtime nurse Michelle Zimmerman expresses longing for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Michelle Zimmerman is a nurse at the St. Vincent Infirmary Coronary Care Unit (CCU) in Hot Springs where she has worked for 32 years.


Zimmerman is an RN working as a staff nurse. Earlier in her career, she was the charge nurse.


The longtime nurse says that the unit was being remodeled in the early part of the year, so the unit was scattered to other critical care units including CVICU (open heart), ICU, and the dedicated COVID-19 care unit. The CCU was closed.


When it finally opened back up during the summer, there were eight beds dedicated to COVID. As of now, there are 10 COVID beds. The critical care unit Zimmerman works with has 20 beds in total and they deal with the sickest of patients.


Most of the COVID beds are full with critically ill patients ranging from high concentrated oxygen to fully ventilated patients. Because they try to rotate each week from COVID to regular patients, she estimates that she tended to 20 to 40 COVID patients.


In addition, she tells us that most people who have COVID just have the flu symptoms fatigue, fever, and cough. However, in critical cases, it attacks every system of the body. Unfortunately, most critical cases lead to death.


This global pandemic has taken a toll on Zimmerman both physically and emotionally. She prays that the illness subsides soon.