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Healthcare workers reflect one year after first COVID-19 death in Indiana

Some say they are "cautiously optimistic" for future
covid one year
Posted at 10:52 PM, Mar 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-16 22:53:01-04

March 16th, 2021 marks one year since the first COVID-19 death was reported in Indiana. Since then more than 12,000 Hoosiers have died from the virus.

Local healthcare workers recall the moment things started to change in March 2020.

“It was very scary. I think none of us really knew what was happening,” said Dr. Kareem M. Ballut with IU Health. “I remember very vividly we just finished one of our heart failure meetings and things were rapidly closing up and we were securing extra beds for the hospital, opening up makeshift hospitals in the parking lot, all for this virus that none of us really knew how to treat.”

As months went by and COVID-19 cases continued to increase, doctors, nurses and staff members at local hospitals all stepped up to keep being there for patients and each other.

“It was overwhelming what we saw on a day-to-day basis… and we just all came together as a great team to help each other because that's just what you do,” said Linda Campbell, a nurse at Johnson Memorial Health. “Patients would come in and then go bad, within 30 minutes be on a vent, so you just had to be there for each other.”

Nurses WRTV spoke with there said things seem to be getting better.

“I think the difference is that last March it just came on quick and went bad quick and now the patients we get, they don’t seem to do as bad, but it seems to linger longer with them… so it just takes them longer to get over the symptoms that they are having,” Campbell said.

They also said the COVID-19 vaccine has played a large role in keeping people safe and reducing the number of COVID-19 beds at the hospital.

“I am cautiously optimistic, I guess we're not really out of the woods, but that with vaccinations that things will improve,” said Ashley Shaffer, a nurse at Johnson Memorial Health.

Over at IU Health, Dr. Ballut said he’s seeing the same thing.

“The most obvious change is hope. People finally know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel hopefully,” Dr. Ballut said.

However, healthcare workers across the state stress that this is not the time to let your guard down. There is always the risk of another surge. They are urging people to still follow all COVID-19 precautions.

“Be safe, be practical, be logical, but at the same time live your life. We all understand that we don't want the virus to totally consume us, at the same time we have to be pragmatic and how we approach it. It's there. It’s real,” Dr. Ballut said.