NewsLocal News


Nurse at The University of Kansas Health System details emotional toll of COVID-19

Bethan Piggot
Posted at 6:00 PM, Oct 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-21 00:04:04-04

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Bethan Piggot started her job as COVID-19 intensive care unit nurse because she wanted to help heal and save lives.

But ever since she’s started her career, she feels like the grim reaper.

Recently, KSHB 41 News Anchor Kevin Holmes talked with Piggot, who says she’s still committed to helping in the fight against COVID-19. But she and her colleagues cannot do it alone.

Piggot graduated from school and started at The University of Kansas Health System in August 2019. For Piggot, it was an exciting job full of hope and saving lives.

Now, both hope and lives continue to fade quickly. Six months in, she was the nurse taking care of the hospital’s very first COVID patient.

Ever since there have been countless moments she’d care to forget.

“It’s a kind of slow march toward death and I think sometimes we kind of felt like shepherds to it," Piggot said. "We’re the people who bag their bodies. We clean them up and put them in the body bags.”

In the last year, Piggot’s seen nearly a death a day.

“It’s a really intimate experience to be with someone during those scariest moments of their lives and sometimes the last moments of their lives," she said. "There are patients who I’m the last one they talk to. It’s hard. It’s really hard, especially sometimes knowing the trajectory that these patients have. They’d go on the ventilator and they’d never come off.”

For Piggot, what’s most frustrating is that it’s preventable.

“It’s really hard because you have family begging you to fix this and you know there’s something that could’ve prevented this all along," she said.

Holmes asked Piggot how she's doing mentally, and what kind of toll it's taken on her.

"Not great honestly," she said. "It's hard to show up 15 months into this and still see people in the same position as they were at the start of COVID. I'd say the majority of our unit is on some form of anti-depressant and some form of therapy. We've all really struggled, especially recently. There's been a huge change. Just because we're really tired and I don't think we fully recovered from the first wave, never mind the second, third or fourth."