Emma compared today’s experience to her own experience with Hurricane Katrina, when she and her mother fled her hometown of Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi, while her father stayed behind to salvage their home. Reflecting on how she relied on front-line workers then, she felt a deep calling to help today.
“We had a MASH-unit hospital, military support, shelter-in-place – for those of us that had shelters. We went to an old train depot to get vaccinated and for medical care. That time in my life solidified my drive to be a public health nurse and to give back. Fear is palpable right now. This is the first time in my career I’m afraid. I have experienced what New York is going through - in the form of a hurricane.”
Even so, this time, she’s on the other side. She’s the one on the front lines and knows this is a challenge and risk for those surrounding her – her husband, parents, sister and dog, Beau.
In honoring the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Year of the Nurse and Midwife, Emma’s advice to her fellow colleagues is this, “We are the helpers. Be brave. We didn’t go into nursing for the easy cases. Think about the nurses who went through this during the AIDS epidemic in the ’80s. We have to put our patients first and this is what we’re doing now. You can see nurses doing this all over the country. Being a nurse and working at Merck goes hand in hand. We always put patients first.”