“It’s about protecting human life, it’s that simple.”

Posted by Beth Funkhouser
Susan McConnell Fisher (E&H ’03) shares insights about the pandemic from the perspective of a healthcare professional.

Susan McConnell Fisher (E&H Class of 2003) is a Nurse Practitioner in Richmond, Virginia. She says she recently found a new expression that aptly described what it has been like as the health care community organized to get ready for a surge in patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. “An article I read, coined the phrase ‘pre-traumatic stress syndrome’ rather than post. In other words, fearing what was to come and I felt it described what we were experiencing perfectly.”

However, recently a new attitude has taken over. “I think the fear and anxiety is still there but we have turned more to a ‘we can handle whatever is thrown at us’ approach, and are dealing with things as best we can. Thankfully, government in Virginia acted more swiftly than in some states with implementing mitigation techniques and we are better prepared than others.

Now that she and her co-workers feel more confident about preparation, Susan’s goal is the same it has been for 15 years – first as a nurse, now as a Nurse Practioner: it’s about treating the patient. And she wants people to understand that politics is not part of the equation; she doesn’t have patients with COVID-19 or patients with heart disease…she has people who are sick and need help.  “For those of us caring for patients, we have one goal: to treat what ails you and send you on your way. Everything we are doing right now is to meet that goal, to keep people safe. This is not about politics for us. We don’t want you to be our patient with COVID-19.”

Susan has the added concern of looking out for her family: worried she’ll bring the virus home to one of them, or worried she’ll get sick and won’t be able to take care of things at home. She is grateful that her childcare center is still open because it’s connected to the hospital. “My children haven’t noticed much of a change in their daily routines and that is such a blessing.”

In the midst of so much work and stress, Susan has also found a way to be hopeful; and she is optimistic about what is down the road. “We can’t control everything, even though we would like to. We just have to focus on what we can control and adapt as best we can. We are still learning about this virus, and will continue to for quite some time. We need to be able to be more fluid, be able to change and sometimes rather quickly. That’s difficult for a lot of people. But during a crisis, you see a lot of strength come from people, from humanity. When I see that, I know we will get through all of this and we’ll be ok.”

  • Susan McConnell Fisher, E&H Class of 2003, Physician Assistant, Richmond, Virginia
…we have turned more to a ‘we can handle whatever is thrown at us’ approach.”
Susan McConnell Fisher
E&H Class of 2003

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