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National Nurses Week: Nurse at Baptist Health shares experience during COVID-19 pandemic

It's National Nurses Week, a time to celebrate the men and women fighting to keep our communities safe from the coronavirus.

FORT SMITH, Ark. — It's National Nurses Week, a time to celebrate the men and women fighting to keep our communities safe. 

5NEWS spoke with a Baptist Health nurse with over 20 years of experience about what it's been like in the hospital during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

Carrie Brewton works in the Infection Prevention Division at Baptist Health in Fort Smith. 

A painting done by a local art student illustrating the microscopic image of COVID-19 sits behind Brewton's desk. It's a reminder of what all health care workers are fighting against. 

“Usually I’m starting my day at 4:30 in the morning and then I’m physically in the building from anywhere for 8-10 hours."

Brewton's work continues when she gets home.  

“Yes, so exhausted but it’s where we are right now and it’s what needs to be done and that’s how we keep it together.”

She's part of the team that started planning for the inevitable arrival of COVID-19 months before it appeared in the River Valley. 

“We started well before the panic set in for everyone else and so it’s been an ongoing process.”

For Brewton, working with COVID-positive patients is no different than any other patient. 

“They’re still patients and they’re still people and so we still treat them with dignity and respect and we still give them the care that they need.”  

Brewton told 5NEWS she wants people to know nurses are some of the most selfless people out there. 

“A lot of times nurses will put aside time with their family. They will put aside lunch breaks, any kind of breaks during the day because they want to make sure you are well taken care of."

It's something she aspires to do every single day. 

Brewton wants to thank everyone working inside our hospitals, including doctors, certified nursing assistants, and housekeepers. 

She says no matter what department they're in, people are stepping up and fighting this deadly virus together. 

Brewton was recently honored with the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses. 

“Carrie comes to work daily with a smile, a heart to help and an ear to listen to concerns voiced,” Stephanie Whitaker, MSN, RN, chief nursing officer for Baptist Health’s Western Region said. “She provides staff and providers with her personal cell phone and has repeatedly said, ‘just call me if you have a question, I will help you’ and she kept that promise.”

Brewton was recognized by Whitaker and her colleagues on Nurses Day, May 6. She received a congratulatory banner to be hung in her department until the next award is given, a plaque and DAISY pin, and a “Healer’s Touch” sculpture handcrafted in Zimbabwe.

The goal of the DAISY Foundation’s program is to inspire nurses to provide exemplary care and applaud them for their compassion and skill. 

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RELATED: National Nurses Week: Baptist Health nurse shares experience during coronavirus pandemic