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Nurses in Nevada County and region talk about why they love their jobs

Tom Durkin
Staff Writer

By the numbers

As of May 5

Number of COVID-19 cases in Nevada County: 41

Number in western county: 12

Number in eastern county: 29

Number of active cases: 2

Number of recoveries: 38

Number of deaths: 1

Learn more at http://www.theunion.com/coronavirus

Asked if — knowing what they know now — they would choose nursing as a career again, the nurses didn’t even have to think about it.

Remarkably, they all had the same one-word answer: “Absolutely!”

“I love nursing. I don’t know what else I would do.” — Cindy Cooper, R.N.

“It’s my calling. It’s what I am meant to do.” — Rebecca Seijas-Ball, C.R.N.A.

“Nursing is what I love, and I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I think that really makes a difference.” — Katrina Campbell, R.N.

“I feel proud to be part of an honorable profession.” — Fred Skeen, R.N. (ret.)

“I was wearing a nurse’s outfit when I was 3 years old.” — Pamela Marsh, R.N. (ret.)

“It’s an amazing job, challenging. Every day is different. We have to change and adapt with new information.” — Chris Bakey, R.N.

“It’s a job where you’re dealing with real stuff, real issues, real people. It feels important.” — Diane Miessler, R.N.

“I can’t imagine doing anything else.” — Kellie Bolle, R.N.

In honor

Today, nurses are honored — the essential women and men who, arguably, have the most dangerous job in health care. Nobody has more direct contact with patients.

May 6 is National Nurses Day and the beginning of National Nurses Week. It’s been the Year of the Nurse and Midwife since Jan. 1

National Nurses Week ends on May 12, which is International Nurses Day — and Florence Nightingale’s birthday. Nightingale is the acclaimed mother of modern nursing. She was born 200 years ago in 1820 in Florence, Italy.

Nightingale’s legacy of passion and compassion lives on in nurses today.

PICK A HAPPY DREAM

“I’m a hand holder,” Rebecca Seijas-Ball declared. “Some people are so scared.”

As a certified registered nurse anesthetist at the Grass Valley Surgical Center, Seijas-Ball guides patients on “their journey through surgery.”

“I don’t ask them to count down. I tell them to think happy things, so if they dream — and some do — they have good dreams.”

Being a surgical nurse as well as a former ICU nurse, Seijas-Ball is hyper-conscious of hygiene. She makes cashiers change gloves before she lets them check out her family’s groceries.

“I’m kind of hardcore.”

TAKING IT TO THE STREETS

“I love nursing. I love people.” For Cindy Cooper, it’s that simple.

Fifteen years working in hospice, then 11 years in an emergency room, Cooper walks her talk. Recently, the Grass Valley resident took a walk outside. She took her passion and compassion to the homeless population of Marysville.

Working for Adventist Health and Rideout Hospital, “street nurse” Cooper runs two free clinics. One clinic features telemedicine consultations with remote doctors.

She’s proud to have scored 1,000 hygiene kits for her clients. Then she sighed, “I can’t get masks for them.”

POINT OF HONOR

Fred Skeen said he’s retired, but it’s hard to tell. He was interviewed by phone at Utah’s Place. Run by the nonprofit Hospitality House, Utah’s Place is Nevada County’s only year-round emergency shelter for homeless people.

Possibly the longest serving volunteer/staff member of Hospitality House, Skeen is beloved for his gentle compassion and unflappable serenity,

He admitted he got into nursing because of “all the cute nursing students,” but he fell in love with the nursing profession.

“Even though I’m retired, I feel an affinity with all health professionals at all levels — and not just the frontline professionals.”

Skeen has hope for the future. “(The pandemic) is going to change things permanently, for the better.”

PICTURE PERFECT

“AIDS pales in comparison to what’s happening now,” said retired nurse Pamela Marsh from her home in Nevada City. “I’m very upset at what’s going on.”

A veteran of the HIV/AIDS crisis at the UCSF Medical Center, Marsh is appalled at the lack of PPE (personal protective equipment) for nurses working with COVID-19 pandemic patients.

“The happiest day of my life was when we got retractable syringes,” she said. It was a time when an accidental needle-stick could be fatal.

Marsh paints to soothe her distress over current events. Although she claims she’s not an artist, her watercolor “Between Shifts” belies that.

An exhausted nurse sits on empty bed, head bowed. She’s having a bad day.

NO BANDANAS

“I love being a nurse,” Chris Bakey avowed. Although he spent some time in construction, Bakey’s career path can be traced from volunteer firefighter to EMT to paramedic to, at age 40, going back to college to become a registered nurse.

“Chris is all over the hospital,” noted Laura Johnson Seeman, director of mission integration and community health for Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital.

Bakey confirmed he is cross-trained in multiple nursing disciplines, enabling him to cover for absent staff and reinforce overloaded staff in most nursing positions in the hospital.

While thousands of nurses all over the country have had to work without adequate safety equipment, Bakey is not worried. “We’re doing very well,” he said of the hospital. “We haven’t been asked to wear bandanas.”

DON’T CALL ME A HERO

“Lots of people are being heroic right now. I’m not one of them,” Diane Miessler insisted.

A public health nurse for Nevada County, Diane Miessler has been working from home. “It’s hard to sometimes to get a sense of how people are doing without visiting them at home.”

“A phone call can only do so much,” she added.

Miessler credited her nursing degree for allowing her to work in psych, hospice, ER, endoscopy and public health.

Referring to the fact it’s the day, week and year of the nurse, Miessler stated: “If you want to honor nurses, look into better staffing ratios for those in hospitals and care facilities — and wash your hands.”

AMAZING GRACE

“It’s amazing to be a nurse right now,” Kellie Bolle stated. “This pandemic gives the world a chance to see what we do.”

“We deal with life and death every day,” said the 51-year-old interim chief nurse of Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital.

Bolle grew up in Downieville. She commuted to Sierra College to get her AA degree in nursing. While working full time, she got her bachelor’s and master’s degrees by studying online at Capella University of Minnesota.

“It was hard, but worth it,” she said. “Our local nurses are so committed and dedicated to healing every patient who walks through the doors, no matter what the reason.”

PRIVILEGED TO BE A NURSE

“I am privileged to care for others, to be an advocate,” Katrina “Kate” Campbell explained. “(I am) the FaceTime of patient care, from bringing new life into this world to assisting those as comfortably as possible out.”

Working at the Oroville Hospital, she wrote in an email, “I want to personally thank … teachers, health care workers, truck drivers, grocery store workers, postal delivery personnel, all of the brave people at home doing the right thing and staying home even though it might cause stress and turmoil financially.

“It’s truly the simplicity of moments that I believe are changing the world. People are finding different ways to spread love and it’s truly inspiring and heartwarming,” she added.

MORE IN THIS SERIES

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Nevada County looks to emphasize smaller units

No fears of housing density among planning officials

COVID-19 protocols strain Nevada County homeless shelter’s budget

Tenants, landlords arrange payment options during COVID-19 eviction ban

Patchwork of tenant protections intact for now

The high cost of homelessness in Nevada County

Nevada City collaborates with county and nonprofits to move campers off Sugarloaf Mountain

Nevada County housing market sees increased demand, limited inventory

‘I may have now but I might not tomorrow’: No uptick in Nevada County homelessness amid COVID-19, but future concerns linger

Nevada County graduates consider options in wake of COVID-19

Nevada County students receive more than $800,000 in scholarships

Graduating seniors in Nevada county weigh financial, academic concerns for college

Career education program adapts to meet needs of students

‘I just want to play’: Players, coaches, ADs and officials eye safe, speedy return of high school sports

‘Should I jump into a career?’ Many questions remain for students, teachers and administrators as the future draws nearer

Nevada County middle schoolers, high school underclassmen unsure what to expect next year

Support systems for Nevada County teens go virtual during pandemic

Sierra College summer enrollment not slowing

‘The best they could’: Nevada County Superintendent of Schools reflects on the school year, ponders what’s to come this fall

‘I can’t see the bottom now’: Administrators consider where and whether to make layoffs amid revenue shortage

‘These kids want to ball’: Youth sports organizations grapple with tough decisions regarding COVID-19 safety

Hamstrung: Nevada County summer sports scene hit hard by COVID-19 pandemic

Nevada County theaters go dark for the year

Movie theaters struggle to cover rent, utilities in an industry that typically operates with narrow profit margin

‘Planning for all of it’: Nevada City Film Festival moves online for this year’s event

Nevada County’s music festivals look to virtual events to build community, recoup finances

For Nevada County musicians, the show goes online

Nevada County artists adapt, host online galleries, concerts and workshops

Street fair cancellations in Nevada City, Grass Valley a huge economic hit

‘We are the recovery; we are essential’: Nevada County Arts Council survey reveals artists, art organizations are struggling

Who’s zooming whom? Creativity among Nevada County artists in the pandemic era

Nevada County Arts Council receives $112K Tahoe Truckee Excellence in Education grant for new project

Nevada County nonprofit funding in jeopardy

Nonprofits struggle to serve clients during pandemic shutdown

Nevada County animal rescue groups see surge in fosters, adoptions

Nevada County’s thrift stores move ahead with reopening

Possible postponement, cancellation of Nevada County Fair would negatively impact several Nevada County nonprofits

Local nonprofits feeling the effect of canceled, postponed fundraising events due to COVID-19

Feeding Nevada County: Effort to help those hungry bolstered by partnerships between nonprofits (VIDEO)

Nevada County youth organizations adjust to public health requirements

Volunteer work faces changes at Nevada County nonprofits amid restrictions

‘Do you have reserves?’ Still much uncertainty over how nonprofits will fare in coming months, years

Government business continues in isolation during COVID-19 pandemic

Nevada County, cities collaborate to reopen safely

Wildfire prep in Nevada County continues virtually during pandemic

‘This is why we signed up’: Librarian, homeless shelter manager continue working during pandemic

Financial aid offers much-needed relief in western Nevada County for those who can get it

Grass Valley trims staff in response to COVID-19 shutdown

Nevada County: Staffing, service reductions not yet needed

Nevada County property tax on par despite pandemic

Nevada County health workers say they currently have sufficient supply of personal protective equipment

Hospice of the Foothills continues providing end-of-life care during COVID-19 crisis

Senior care facilities on lockdown during COVID-19 pandemic

Residents of Nevada County senior living communities staying connected

‘Continue to plan and prepare’: Hospital analyzes finances, anticipates federal funding to ensure financial stability

Nurses in Nevada County and the region talk about why they love their jobs

Nevada County not planning to release more detailed COVID-19 case data

Officials: Testing is key in calls to reopen in Nevada County, across California

Nevada County doctors change approach to providing care due to COVID-19

The trifecta: Public health experts recommend testing, contact tracing and supported isolation to phase into a reopened world

Investigating the impact: Lack of revenue, uncertain return date causes concern for arts and entertainment venues

Impacts of Idaho-Maryland mine to be revealed soon

Nevada County artists discuss how COVID-19 shutdown has affected them

‘The arts are essential’: Center for the Arts launches emergency relief fund

Real estate sales strong in Nevada County despite challenges

No slowdown seen in Nevada County construction industry despite COVID-19 lockdown

Nevada County government, home improvement and real estate representatives talk business during COVID-19

‘I’d like to place an order’: In light of COVID-19, the demand for home delivery services in Nevada County is at an all-time high

Grass Valley, Nevada City first to feel COVID-19 economic hit

See you soon? Small business owners struggle, but are hopeful for a brighter tomorrow in Nevada County

Nevada County businesses struggle navigating economic relief

Nevada County health care providers pivot on financial tight rope

‘A sudden and dramatic downturn’: Nevada County economy will be hurt for longtime following coronavirus slowdown, expert says

‘A recession, let alone a depression’: Western Nevada County businesses apply for federal loans, but most have yet to receive money

Nevada County businesses, governments, nonprofits navigate uncertain times, worry what’s ahead

RELATED RESOURCES

http://www.TheUnion.com/coronavirus

http://www.MyNevadaCounty.com/coronavirus

Coronavirus Guidance for Businesses/Employers

Nevada County Relief Fund for Covid-19

Tom Durkin is a staff writer for The Union.


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