Las Cruces community hero: ICU nurse holds COVID-19 patients' hands when family members can't
Editor's note: This is one in a series of stories honoring community heroes in Las Cruces. Thank you to all healthcare workers.
LAS CRUCES — On Tuesday, family members of those battling SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, gathered outside ground floor intensive care unit rooms at Memorial Medical Center. Windows were decorated with crosses, posters and other items to bring their loved ones comfort.
For the past nine months, it's been an all too familiar sight at hospitals across the country, as the virus ravages communities and prevents family members from seeing loved ones in treatment.
Memorial Medical Center Intensive Care Unit nurse Deanne Hobbs said the family separation caused by COVID-19 has been one of the most difficult things about working as a healthcare provider during this pandemic.
Hobbs, who has been an ICU nurse for nearly seven years, said the passing of one particular patient this year brings her to tears.
"The patient unfortunately wasn't going to make it, so the decision to let him go at that point was made and I just went in there and put my PPE (personal protective equipment) on and held his hand and moved his hair, set up his bed so the person's family could see through the window and Facetime so they could talk to him," she said.
Hobbs said she and the respiratory therapist she was working with that day allowed the patient to pass with as much love as possible.
That patient's family nominated Hobbs for the Daisy Award, given to healthcare workers every quarter. When she was announced as the winner, Hobbs said it was an extremely emotional moment.
"It made me feel good, but it brought back some memories. I do remember their family. It just brought back the whole situation, but it felt good because I would want you to do that for me and my family," she said.
Hobbs said she never thought she'd be working as a nurse during a pandemic.
"It's very scary," she said. "(The virus) affects anybody, any age, any health condition, any health status. It's just out to get you."
COVID-19 is a very real disease, Hobbs said.
"It's very serious. I don't know how else to put it out there. It's very serious and the people that get the disease, that get the virus, have aftermath from this," she said.
She said she's thankful to be on the intensive care team at Memorial Medical Center because they're a very close and lift each other up during tough times. She considers her team a close family.
Throughout the pandemic, Hobbs said residents of Doña Ana County have been extremely supportive of healthcare workers. People have donated food and drawn art on the sidewalks outside of the hospital.
Other ways community members can support healthcare workers, Hobbs said, is to stay home.
"Wash your hands and wear your mask and do your six feet. This is so serious. You don't understand until it's somebody very close to you that's affected," she said.