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Nurses Week: Honoring a Sharp Memorial hospital hero

“It's been quite interesting how quickly we have been able to adapt and learn,” said Jennifer.

SAN DIEGO — Nurse Jennifer Hites is on the front lines at Sharp Memorial with a very important job -- making sure all of the emergency room nurses are as safe as possible during this COVID-19 crisis.

“It's been quite interesting how quickly we have been able to adapt and learn,” said Jennifer.

Not that anything in an ER is ever easy, but Jennifer says quickly pivoting to protect her crew from catching, or spreading COVID-19 has been a tough, learn-on-the-fly experience. 

“Things were changing on a daily basis and it was challenging not only to navigate my own stress and anxiety, but also the staff's anxiety,” said Jennifer.

Adding to that anxiety is the fact that Jennifer really has to watch her staff's every move. With how easily coronavirus can spread from one person to another, she knows it doesn't take much for a minor issue to become a major problem so she has to speak up quickly when she notices a potential problem. 

“Wait a second,” Jennifer says recalling conversations she’s recently had. “I think you just broke PPE and we need to wipe you down and put you in a fresh one before you move on to the next patient.”

Jennifer is proud of the way her team has handled these new challenges, teaching each other and creating an environment where everyone can feel comfortable holding each other accountable. 

“Somehow or another, we band together, we all get through this,” she said. “The roughest of the rough -- we still manage to band together and make it through this to when it's all done and finished, people will say, 'yeah, that was tough, but you know what -- somehow or another we pulled through this.'”

And not lost on Jennifer in this new normal are the patients. Especially, the fact that families and visitors are not allowed currently in the trauma department. 

“People are by themselves and that's tough. I just can't even imagine,” said Jennifer.

Jennifer says she got into nursing because she loved the science -- the fact that it's continually evolving, giving her the opportunity to help save lives. 

She's been a nurse for 22 years and says she'd do it all again. 

“Even when you've had a rough day, there's usually something out of that rough day that will put a smile on your face and the rest of the rough day is forgotten completely.” 

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