'I promised my son I'd stay alive'

Nurse practitioner who wore full protective gear contracted coronavirus.

NPR ,

Corona test
Corona test
Reuters

After nine days of anxiously waiting, pulmonary and critical-care nurse practitioner Shelley Urquhart’s COVID-19 test came back positive.

Dealing with the sickness wasn’t the worst part of her diagnosis, she says. It was having to reveal the news to her 10-year-old son Connor from behind a closed door, as she was quarantining herself for two weeks.

“He cried and he made me promise him that I wouldn’t die,” she says. “And having to try to comfort a child from behind closed doors is just immensely difficult — more difficult than being sick. It’s just not being able to be there when your child needs you.”

Urquhart is now on the mend and back at work. She says after two weeks of fighting the virus in isolation, she’s feeling “much better.”

Urquhart, an employee at Norton Audubon Hospital, part of one of the largest healthcare systems in Louisville, is on the front lines of fighting the coronavirus. Despite wearing all of the recommended personal protective equipment (PPE) while treating a critically ill patient — including an N95 mask, eye protection, gown and gloves — she still contracted the contagious virus.

She just hit her two-week mark and says she will not be retested for coronavirus.

“We are doing a process at my hospital where you're off for two weeks from the time that you were tested,” she says, “and then once you were fever-free and symptom-free for 72 hours, then you can report back to work.”

Implementing aggressive measures at the start of the pandemic was key, she says, and applauds Kentucky for executing “very, very strict stay-at-home measures” after the first case in the state appeared.

“State and local governments, I think, have been really instrumental in helping to have consistent messaging,” she says. “And the federal government, we haven't seen very consistent messaging from them. I think there's a lot of room for improvement from that standpoint.”




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