Mom’s Emotional Post Highlights Healthcare Workers' Sacrifices Due to COVID-19

“Nobody signed up for this. No nursing program or medical school prepares us for a pandemic.”
ByNehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
Apr 2020
close-up of nurse clutching her stethoscope with her hands
Photo: Getty Images

In these uncertain and scary times, healthcare professionals are on the front lines fighting against COVID-19—and that fight comes with additional sacrifices. Many healthcare professionals and first responders are being forced to separate from their loved ones to keep them safe. Now, a nurse is opening up about her story in a heartbreaking post.

Devon Oechsle has been an ER nurse for close to five years and has seen the worst days of people’s lives. Yet, she has never encountered anything like the coronavirus pandemic. Now, like many others on the front lines, she’s finding herself in unprecedented situations, both at work and at home. Last week, she made the difficult decision to send her 3-year-old daughter, Eliana to live with a friend nearby.

Oechsle’s husband Jason is a firefighter and medic for the City of Bryan, Texas and also constantly exposed to COVID-19. The two sat down to have the difficult conversation of how to best protect their daughter. Neither parent knows for certain when they’ll be able to bring their daughter home.

“Nobody signed up for this. No nursing program or medical school prepares us for a pandemic,” she told TODAY Parents in an interview. “We are like poison to her right now. We have been exposed, and we don’t want her to get it.”

Early last week, Oechsle took to Facebook to write about her decision and the emotions that came with it. The post has now gone viral, with over 220,000 reactions, 145,000 shares and 115,000 comments. “This is the face of someone who feels punished for trying to be the ‘good guy.’ My job as an ER nurse is just that, my job, I don’t ever feel like it’s anything crazy or special or deserving of accolades. Jason feels the same way as a firefighter/medic,” she wrote in the caption, continuing. “I feel punished for having to be the ‘good guy.’ I have to send my 3.5yo child away. I won’t get to visit her. I won’t get to hug her. I won’t get to tuck her in at night. We have FaceTime, and that’s it. For up to a month, or who knows how long…and many of my coworkers have had to do the same.”

Eliana is currently staying with Anita Graziano, a friend of Oechsle’s who Eliana knows well and offered to take her without hesitation. While Oechsle and her husband talk to their daughter everyday, several times a day through FaceTime, she’s still too young to fully understand the situation. In a recent FaceTime call, Oechsle recalls her daughter saying, “I miss home.”

Eliana may not be able to return home until two weeks after the couple’s last interaction with a COVID-19 positive patient, but Oechsle wants to emphasize that her family’s story is not unique. Healthcare workers across the globe have had to make similar sacrifices. “We have tons of co-workers and colleagues who have had to do the same thing,” Oechsle told the outlet. “Tons. Hundreds.”

While healthcare workers are on the front lines of the fight, there is one critical way everyone else can help. Stay home. “If you are having to stay home with your kids all day, consider it a blessing and absolutely NOTHING less,” Oechsle concluded in her caption. “And for heaven’s sake, everyone, STAY. AT. HOME. The sooner this crap is over, the quicker my kid can come home.”

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