Hometown Healing: COVID-19 hits close to home for Lenoir County ER nurse

Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 8:47 AM EST
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LENOIR COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - On the day that her grandfather passed away from COVID-19, Registered Nurse Andrea Hendershot went to work in the emergency department.

Her grandfather’s last moments at the hospital were a reminder of why she chose this career.

Her unwavering passion for patient care is even clearer inside UNC Lenoir Healthcare, where COVID-19 patients deal with isolation.

“The hardest moments I would say is having patients that can’t be with their family members. I try to stay in contact with the family and update them as much as possible, talk with the patient and ask them if they need me to talk to their families at all,” said Hendershot.

Upon graduating nursing school in 2018, Hendershot faced unexpected lessons during the pandemic two years later.

“We’ve had to adjust as new things come about, just like the patient not having family members, treating this different disease that we’re not used to treating, wearing different types of PPE,” Hendershot explained.

She met the challenges head on. Her boss says he was a little worried about her at first.

“One night I heard her and I realized at that point in time, she was gonna be able to take care of business,” said Clinical Coordinator Stanley Lynch.

She stepped up and covered multiple shifts and juggled challenges with staffing and bed capacity as the number of COVID-19 cases surged.

“We help each other just as much as we possibly can, but sometimes we get overwhelmed by the sheer numbers that we have coming through our front doors and back door,” said Lynch.

Hendershot added, “It’s very overwhelming but I started this career loving to care for people, so I just keep that in the back of my mind that I’m doing this for others. It does make me happy and then I always have my team there to back me up. I do what I do for each and every one of my patients and I’m always going to give them the best care that I can give and I know my team is going to give them the best care that they can give.”

This is Hendershot’s first job after nursing school.

Her dad had COVID in the early months of the pandemic. She says she always thinks of him when she takes care of patients. She was unable to see him at the hospital when he was isolated back then, so she knows how difficult that can be for both patients and family members.

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