Area nurses discuss treating COVID-19 patients


It may be National Nurses Week, but nurses are being recognized now more than ever for their hard work on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Local nurses at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital are no exception.

Paige Berge is one of the nurses working with COVID-19 patients in the critical care unit at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire.

“It’s very exciting to know what you did mattered and worked,” Berge said.

On Tuesday, a recovering COVID-19 patient who spent 27 days at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital was discharged. 19 of those days spent at the hospital were in the critical care unit. 58-year-old Sharon Pettibone of Black River Falls was sent to a hospital closer to home, where she is staying for a few days before being released.

“I think before her discharge, just being able to see her come off the ventilator was just so awesome,” said HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital RN and Critical Care Unit Manager Anne Pretasky said.

Pretasky says it is amazing to see how hard working her nurses have been these past few months during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It becomes obvious in moments like this that they really all live the mission each and everyday and they’re in there doing the right thing for the patient regardless of the fact that the person has a communicable illness or not,” said Pretasky.

No matter how challenging it can be for all nurses, Pretasky says her nurses at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital always push through the hard days.

“You’re in there with the isolation equipment on, it’s hot and it’s sweaty and it’s long hours for those guys and they just really work hard,” Pretasky said.

Berge says recovery isn’t just physical, it’s also mental. She says it can be especially hard for the patients to have the motivation to get better when they aren’t able to see their families in person.

“Trying to explain a situation with a family member over the phone, especially if it’s not an easy ‘they’re doing better, they’re going to go home soon’ situation, It’s hard to explan the severity and then have them not able to see that is really hard.” Berge said.

Despite the long work days, Berge says the nurses are only concerned about their patients and getting each one healthy again. She says even though some people see her as a hero, she sees herself as simply doing her job.

“We chose to save lives. Everyday coming into work could be a different catastrophe, disaster, infection, disease, and we would handle it just like we would anybody else,” said Berge.

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