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Retired Nurse Reflects on Pandemic with Missouri on Mic: 'Somehow, We Got Through One of the Greatest Ordeals I've Lived Through'

 Susan Good records her conversation in the Missouri on Mic mobile recording booth at the Columbia Bicentennial event on July 4, 2021. KBIA's Connor McGovern stands alongside.
Trevor Hook
/
KBIA
Susan Good records her conversation in the Missouri on Mic mobile recording booth at the Columbia Bicentennial event on July 4, 2021. KBIA's Connor McGovern stands alongside.

Susan Good is a retired nurse who spent most of her career and the beginning of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic working in Tacoma, Washington.

She spoke with KBIA’s Missouri on Mic team at the Columbia Bicentennial event back on July 4th  about what nursing during the pandemic in Washington state was like, and a little bit about why she’s chosen to retire to Columbia, Missouri.

You can find more Missouri on Mic conversations here or tune in to 91.3 FM on Mondays.

Missouri Health Talks gathers Missourians’ stories of access to healthcare in their own words.

Susan Good: I actually could have retired sooner than January of 2021, but when the pandemic hit, I was working, and the pandemic was something I have never experienced before.

And I pray – I pray, that no one in this country or anywhere in the world ever experiences that again.

We were without PPE [personal protective equipment]. I chose to stay and continue to work because I had a feeling that I owed it to my profession to do so. It was very frightening, you know, for myself – but for every nurse that I worked with, and somehow, we got through what has to be one of the greatest ordeals I've lived through in my life.

In the type of nursing I was doing at the time, I was responsible to become – well, I became the patient's family. They did not have contact with family members, and so very rapidly – you or I, myself, my coworkers – began to realize, “we're filling a void here that is imperative to the mental health of the people we care for.”

"At one point I was in the hallway in a dollar store poncho that we were being forced to use because there was – we no longer had gowns., and so, our supervisors went out to the dollar store and bought ponchos."
Retired Nurse Susan Good

And that had to be one of the hardest things – to see patients not able to see their family members was something I've never experienced, and that was very, very rewarding to do such a thing, but, at the same time, extremely, extremely difficult.

And it took its toll on nurses, but because nurses are very much team oriented, we could rely on each other to express what we were feeling and how things were going, you know, how we were handling the situations we were handling – on top of being scared. Scared to go to work because we did not have proper PPE.

At one point I was in the hallway in a dollar store poncho that we were being forced to use because there was – we no longer had gowns., and so, our supervisors went out to the dollar store and bought ponchos.

Well, dollar store poncho was not the same as the proper PPE, and it was it was frightening, but we did it. We did it.

It's just no coincidence to me, in my life, that having gone through the pandemic and then very shortly afterwards, I moved to Missouri where the pace is slower. The people are friendly. It’s sort of was like this, “it was meant to be” this kind of situation.

Because I went from learning to be in a slower pace, more appreciative with gratitude, and speaking to people with an interest in who they were and what they were doing, to suddenly ending up in Missouri where I find – that's what the people are like here.

Production on this Missouri on Mic & Missouri Health Talks collaboration was done by KBIA’s Trevor Hook and Emma Boyle.

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Rebecca Smith is a reporter and producer for the KBIA Health & Wealth desk. She was born and raised in Rolla, Missouri, and graduated with degrees in Journalism and Chemistry from Truman State University in May 2014. Rebecca comes to KBIA from St. Louis Public Radio, where she worked as the news intern and covered religion, neighborhood growth and the continued unrest in Ferguson, MO.