ICU nurse comes out of retirement to help during coronavirus outbreak

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SAN DIEGO — A former intensive care nurse is coming out of retirement to help treat coronavirus patients.

Her name is Trish Douglas, and this comes after the City of San Diego asked all former healthcare workers and medical residents to step up and help those battling the virus. 

Douglas retired after spending 30 years as a nurse in intensive care units. More than half of those years were spent at Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla. Three years ago, she decided to swap out her scrubs for a slower pace. However, that all changed recently. 

“COVID-19 — yeah, my heartstrings have been pulled, and I feel like I need to go back and give back to all those patients who really need it,” said Douglas. She says her call to help fight the coronavirus pandemic came about two weeks ago. 

“A nurse in Georgia, who was talking about a patient who was dying, she pulled out her own cell phone from beneath her gown and gloves and mask called (the patient’s) family so that they could say goodbye over FaceTime. I thought, you know, I have to go back, and I have to give back,” Douglas said.

It was then when she realized she needed to start taking care of her community. She said she immediately called her old manager in the ICU and said, “If you need me, I’m here. I can start tomorrow.”

Before she reactivated her nursing license, Douglas ran it by her family. “I said, ‘Are you guys OK if mommy goes back to the ICU? I know they are long hours and it’s hard, and I know it’s scary with what you’re hearing on the news. Are you OK with mommy going back in?’ They said, ‘Absolutely. We’re so proud of you mom!’”

Douglas volunteered before Mayor Kevin Faulconer called on all retired medical workers to step up. During a recent press conference, the mayor said, “We are expecting some type of surge, and we must be ready to provide the medical services necessary to save lives. Our city, of course, is known for its expertise in science, health and in medicine, so San Diego will continue to do its part.”

              A surge Douglas is prepared for as she gears up for what could be the hardest and saddest weeks to come.

In addition to retired medical workers, the mayor has also asked for current nursing students to help fight the virus. Those who register to serve will be paid and receive medical insurance.

Anyone interested in signing up can do so on the California Health Corp page. This is a statewide effort that California Gov. Gavin Newsom has been promoting for more than a week.

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