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Nurses reflect on COVID-19: 'Doesn't feel over to us yet'

St. Luke's nurse
Posted at 3:05 PM, May 11, 2023

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Thursday marks the official end of COVID-19 as a global health emergency. The World Health Organization made this determination last week.

“It gives a sense of closure to the true emergency elements,” St. Luke’s Chief Nurse Executive Susie Krug said. “But it also pivots a bit to that recovery of some of the things we encountered.”

It’s been more than three years since front line workers started treating COVID-19 patients.

Nurses like Kristin Sollars are embracing the moments they now have to take a breath.

“We’re in the messy middle is what we keep saying. Where it is nice that it’s slowing down but we don’t necessarily feel like we did before the pandemic,” Sollars said. “There has been this lowering of intensity and that feels nice.”

Sollars said she experienced moments of love and loss at the highest level of her career over the last three years.

“I am a person who can handle a lot of things. And I’ve had to zip more body bags than I’ve ever had to do in my life,” Sollars said.

Sollars says that while the health emergency may have reached a finish line, to her, it still doesn't feel like she reached it quite yet.

“The pandemic feels over to everyone, but it doesn’t necessarily feel over to us yet,” Sollars said, “ We can say the emergency part is over, but we are still recovering and that will take us awhile. That’s okay.”

As the feeling of urgency ends, there’s a new focus for nursing leaders like Susie Krug.

“It gives a sense of closure to the true emergency elements,” said Krug, St. Luke’s Chief Nurse Executive, “It also pivots a bit to that recovery of some of the things we encountered.”

Krug said while before the pandemic wellness was focused on eating right, moving your body and getting enough sleep, there is now the addition of recovering your mind.

“One of the big lessons learned is the focus on our own well-being in times of challenge,” Krug said. “And really being a nurse to ourselves.”

Sollars said if you’ve ever relied on a nurse in your life, take the time to ask a simple question: How are you?

“This is the time to give that back,” she said. “Go ahead and call them. They need you to check and just make sure they are okay.”

National nurses week ends May 12th.