Nurse uses chalk drawings to inspire co-workers

CNN/ Newswire | 12/3/2020, 11:07 a.m.

By Noah Johnson

FREMONT, Neb. (Fremont Tribune) -- For Angela Meiergerd, a registered nurse at Methodist Fremont Health, fighting on the frontlines against the COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll.

What began as fear of the unknown has translated into difficult days that continue to produce new challenges as the year has progressed.

“Some days are tougher,” Meiergerd, who has worked at the area hospital for the last seven years, said. “Recently, it’s the patient populace that has changed. It’s not the same people that it was in the beginning, so it’s a little overwhelming.”

In light of the challenges, Meiergerd said her and fellow health care professionals have buckled down and have continued to push forward.

“You just have to keep pushing through,” she said. “You have to keep swimming.”

Meiergerd brought that idea to life on Monday with a chalk drawing outside the hospital’s employee entrance.

The drawing shows a nurse, dressed in full PPE gear, grasping up through the waves in an attempt to reach a patient in their bed.

“I’m just trying to keep people inspired as they walk into work,” she said.

It’s not the first time Meiergerd has used chalk drawings to provide some inspiration to her fellow co-workers since the pandemic began. Previously, Meiergerd and her children wrote inspirational quotes and drew a scene out of the movie Finding Nemo, along with the quote “just keep swimming.”

Meiergerd said she is concerned about the mental health of her co-workers as they continue to fight through different waves and surges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since she completed the drawing, Meiergerd said she’s received compliments for her work, but she noted that most of those coming into the hospital are so focused on their 12-hour shifts that there isn’t much time to talk.

“They are my friends and I love them more than I can explain, but we generally don’t have a lot of time to talk,” she said.

Meiergerd said she still hasn’t adjusted to the increased patient load. She said patients suffering from COVID-19 in the ER require hours of attention, with most of that work falling on nurses.

“It’s very time-consuming and these people are sick and get sick very quickly,” she said. “It is overwhelming and scary most days.”

Subscribe to The Fremont Tribune and get unlimited access to local news

In light of the pressing struggles COVID-19 has introduced to hospital staff in Fremont, Meiergerd said the companionship between her and her co-workers has been the glue that has held everyone together.

“It’s absolutely the fabric that holds us together,” she said. “As a team, you have to know that you can rely on your fellow employees and your team members to get through this.”

Personally, Meiergerd’s life has slowed down since the pandemic began impacting the area earlier this year. Instead of being able to go on runs with her children, she’s taken up different hobbies like learning to play the ukulele and guitar.

“I’ve really dove into that just for something different and I’ve spent a lot of time with my kids.”

Outside of that, Meiergerd said the only way she’s been able to push through the pandemic is by handing everything to God.

“It’s my job to do His work and do it to the best of my ability,” she said. “Then, I give it to Him, because that’s really all that I got.”

In the meantime, Meiergerd said she and her staff will continue to care for those in need. Even in the face of constant pressure, she remained optimistic.

“We’ll get through it,” she said. “We’ll just keep swimming.”