Lindsay Packard, RN and Jahmaal Willis, RN
“Our experience at St. Mary’s was great. My son was very happy with his care, which is saying a lot considering he’s an RRT. He was thankful for the care he received.”
A Look Back on a Year Like No Other
Two caregivers – ICU nurse lead Lindsay Packard, RN and ER charge nurse Jahmaal Willis, RN – share their experience.
As COVID-19 continues to impact the High Desert community, the caregivers at Providence St. Mary Medical Center have found themselves on the front lines for more than a year. Through generous philanthropic support of the Emergency Response and Recovery Fund, the medical center has been able to meet the extraordinary demands brought about by the pandemic. Two caregivers — ICU nurse lead Lindsay Packard, RN, and ER charge nurse Jahmaal Willis, RN — shared their experience.
From the time she was a little girl, Lindsay knew she was destined to be a nurse. “Nursing has always been where my heart is,” she said.
Jahmaal describes his work as a calling. “My wife tells our five kids, ’Your dad is a superhero. When he puts on his scrubs, he goes to work and saves lives.’ That’s a lot to live up to,” he laughed.
But neither nurse knew the heroism their roles would require as the coronavirus emerged and quickly reached pandemic proportions. The first months were marked by uncertainty and rapidly evolving protocols. “It was scary because it was something new to the community,” explained Jahmaal. “We didn’t know what to expect.”
It soon became clear what they were up against. Both Lindsay and Jahmaal recall a harrowing day last fall when the ER and ICU were well above maximum capacity. Ten patients went into cardiac or respiratory arrest, two of them simultaneously. Lindsay performed so many chest compressions that day, her hands became callused.
Meanwhile, Jahmaal himself contracted COVID-19 and spent four months recovering at home. Despite the severity of his symptoms, he refused admittance to Providence St. Mary because he didn’t want to take up valuable bed space.
Despite the ongoing tragedy of the pandemic, both nurses consider the hospital — and themselves — changed for the better. “I have learned that I have more resilience than I ever thought possible,” reflected Lindsay. “It’s okay to break down when you need to. Sometimes my team needs to see and feel that from their leaders. Then I can pick myself up and get strong again.”
“It’s brought us closer together as an entire team,” Jahmaal added. “People who share traumatic experiences have a stronger bond — even among different departments. Now we rely on each other and interact more. We have a greater appreciation for every single department. And it makes us stronger as a hospital.”
Both remain deeply grateful for their community’s support of the hospital during this extraordinary time. “The outpouring of donations and supportive drive-by events has been incredible,” said Lindsay. The Foundation provided beanies, cards and meals
to caregivers throughout the pandemic thanks to community generosity.
Even behind his N95 mask, Jahmaal’s smile was visible. “I’m so thankful to be a part of this community.”
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