April Hendrickson is a resource nurse at University Hospital and Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. She spoke with Side Effect’s Public Media’s Darian Benson about how she found strength in her faith while working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The following transcript has been edited for clarity.
“My name is April Hendrickson, and I'm a registered nurse at IU health hospitals. I'm a resource nurse that floats back and forth between Methodist and University Hospitals. I've been a nurse for 27 years.
This year, with the pandemic, has been quite a challenge, especially at the beginning. Just not knowing so much about COVID. And then just just seeing just so many deaths occur because of it. And just not knowing, am I at risk at work? If I work, do I bring COVID home to my family?
I've had at least, probably 60 to 70 some odd patients. Just totaling them up between the different units. I've taken care of COVID patients even in dialysis. And I've taken care of COVID patients on medical surgical floors, I've taken care of COVID patients on PCU floors, which is like a step down from ICU.
Now, everybody did not make it that I took care of. But then there were some that were able to walk right out of the hospital.
At first, I was afraid. And I talked to my pastor, and he told me, ‘You know ... the patient that has COVID-19 needs your care, too.’ And I really took that to heart. And I stopped being afraid. And I just went in there with the attitude of, this patient needs my care. And I'm going to provide it to them. That's what I was meant to do in life, I feel, is to be a nurse, is to take care of the sick.
I even caught [COVID] from my son. When he came home from college. And I do remember thinking, 'Am I gonna die?' .... And once again, I just, I just felt like, you know, I just have to trust God. And not be fearful.
My mom was a nurse, she was a LPN. And she started encouraging me to pursue nursing. And so I thought, I'm gonna listen to what she says, I'm gonna try this. And so yes, she was my inspiration.
My mom has passed on now. I was working on my mother's floor that she used to work on, and sometimes I do work on that floor, and every time I work up there, I remember her and I remember going up on that floor when I was a child. Like when she'd have to work Easter, my dad would take us up in our little Easter dresses, so that she could see us when she had a chance to come into the lounge. And then we go back home. And so I never forgot that memory.
I think that she would encourage me. I think that she would have told me that I could do it, and that I just had to push past the fear.
I learned that even though something would seem, I don't know, frightful or scary, that I can persevere and I can push through that fear. I learned that human life is precious. And that we really, really need to love those people in our lives. And appreciate them while they're here. Because life is short. I think a lot of us have lost loved ones during this pandemic. And it just made me appreciate life more. You know, if, if I didn’t die during this, then I have a purpose, and I need to live up to my purpose.”
This story was produced by Side Effects Public Media, a news collaborative covering public health.