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Trevor Ray, RN (center) with his family

COVID Unit Nurse Shares Frontline Experience

As a night nurse in Providence St. Jude’s step-down unit for the last 12 years, registered nurse Trevor Ray’s career had largely been focused on helping critically ill patients recover and transition to the next appropriate level of care — whether it be the general medical floor or back home. 

But when COVID-19 hit last year, Trevor’s experience dramatically changed. His cross training in critical care was pushed to the forefront as he began serving in the medical center’s COVID unit. Suddenly, he was seeing more patients take a turn for the worse.

“In the COVID unit, my job didn’t really change — the acuity of my patients changed,” says Trevor. “I’d spend several nights with
patients trying to keep them off the ventilator. Then I’d come back and find they’d been intubated because they could no longer breathe on their own. Seeing that, and not knowing if they would pull through, that was the hardest part for me.”

Trevor recounts a particularly difficult experience in which he cared for the brother of a good friend, Providence St. Jude Executive Director of Nursing, Julie Kim.

“I was Daniel’s nurse in the COVID unit the nights before he got intubated,” remembers Trevor. “I ‘grew up’ on the same unit as Julie and have worked with her for 18 years, so her brother is my brother. I wanted to do everything I could to keep him from being intubated, but I could see it was coming. That was really hard to watch, because her family is my family.”

Thankfully, Daniel survived and was able to go home after a record stay of five months at the medical center. Success stories like his keep Trevor motivated, along with knowing that he can offer much-needed relief and comfort to his patients.

“Because I work 4–5 nights in a row, I think families appreciate the familiarity of seeing the same person every night,” says Trevor. “I can give them that reassurance and continuity of care. That’s been the most gratifying part of this experience. To be that constant for my patients.”

Trevor also draws encouragement from his wife and three young children, and the support of his Providence St. Jude family and the larger community. “We couldn’t do what we do without the support of the community. The supplies, the food — sometimes you don’t have time to get down to the cafeteria to eat, so those meals and donations are extremely appreciated,” says Trevor. “This is a great hospital to work at, and the community support is amazing.”

Trevor himself reflects the generosity of the community; for 15 years he has been a loyal donor to the medical center.

“Providence St. Jude has been really good to me and my family. And I want to be able to give back,” says Trevor.

To make a gift to support our caregivers, visit stjudememorialfoundation.org/donate.

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