MHS grad volunteers to care for COVID patients

Jordyn Cigrand has been working as a nurse at St. Luke’s for five years now. About a month ago, she volunteered to transfer to the COVID-19 unit to help care for those patients. Cigrand said she’s not putting her life on the line, but just doing her job. (Photo submitted)
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     “This pandemic experience is a massive experiment in collective vulnerability. We can be our worst selves when we’re afraid, or our very best, bravest selves. In the context of fear and vulnerability, there is often very little in between because when we are uncertain and afraid our default is self-protection. We don’t have to be scary when we’re scared. Let’s choose awkward, brave, and kind. And let’s choose each other.” (Quote from author Brené Brown)

     COVID-19 frontline nurse Jordyn Cigrand, formerly of Monticello, shared that quote from her manager.

     Cigrand is currently working in the COVID-19 unit at St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids, after spending five years as a nurse on the oncology/neurology unit. She volunteered for the job a few weeks ago, unsure as to when she’ll return to her “home” unit.

     While there were a number of reasons Cigrand volunteered to help COVID-19 patients, the biggest reason was “so others who were not comfortable doing so did not have to.

     “I am not in the high-risk category, I am not pregnant, I do not have chronic health conditions, I do not live with someone who is in the high-risk category, so I felt it was my duty to do so and the decision was easy for me to make,” shared Cigrand. “This is my job and nothing will stand in the way of me doing what I love.”

     It was Cigrand’s brother, Logan, who she credits with getting her the nursing job at St. Luke’s to begin with. Logan worked at the hospital at the time, and knew of an opening in the oncology/neurology unit.

     “I absolutely love the patient population on that unit,” said Cigrand.

     There isn’t a huge change in her job after switching to taking care of COVID-19 patients. The biggest difference is wearing PPE (personal protective equipment) with every patient on the COVID floor.

     Over a month ago, St. Luke’s asked medical staff for volunteers for the COVID unit. Cigrand herself cross-trained for other areas of the hospital such as the ED (emergency department). She worked a few shifts in the ED prior to working the COVID unit.

     “Working on the COVID unit is really no different than working on my original unit,” explained Cigrand. “We are all there for one thing, and that is to take care of the patients and that is what we do.”

     In addition, medical staff are constantly putting on and taking off their PPE, of which Cigrand is not worried of a shortage.

     “I have a lot of faith in our hospital, and at this time, I am not concerned about lack of PPE and have yet to run into problems related to me not having adequate PPE when providing patient care,” she said.

     Compared to her previous nursing role, the COVID patients see their doctors and nurses in full PPE gear: gowns, masks, and face shields.

     Cigrand said it’s hard on the COVID patients not being able to see family face-to-face. To help with the difficult situation, the hospital provided iPads for the COVID unit so families can video chat with their loved ones.

     St. Luke’s is located in Linn County, where, as of May 4, there have been 757 conformed cases and 47 deaths. Some patients have required the use of a ventilator, while others have not. Cigrand said the novel virus has also affected her own loved ones.

     She tries to remain positive while on the job, but admitted it has been hard on her personal life.

     “I am a big believer in having a positive mindset especially during trying times like this one; I try to always look at the glass half full,” she shared. “Having a negative mindset just creates a domino effect of negativity and I try to avoid that.

     “It is helpful that the hospital is always sending e-mails updating their staff on new/changed information. I go into each shift as I have done before the COVID-19 pandemic, with a good mindset and making my patients my number-one priority. Loving what you do really makes a difference.”

     Cigrand said St. Luke’s has made it a priority to offer staff emotional and behavioral health support during this trying time.

     All over the country there are reports of healthcare officials contracting coronavirus from their patients. That fear is very much real in Iowa, too. While the thought is in the back of Cigrand’s mind, she does not let it consume her.

     “COVID-19 is now community-spread so there is risk of getting it in the community as well,” explained Cigrand. “I have worked in healthcare for over five years and there is always a risk of bringing something home with you, but I just keep reminding myself that I’m doing everything I can to prevent that.”

     Those prevention measures include wearing the appropriate PPE, showering after every shift, wearing clean street clothes to and from work, monitoring her temperature at home and work, covering her coughs, and frequently washing her hands.

     Some COVID healthcare workers are staying away from their families during this time, so as not to worry about bringing the virus home with them. Cigrand does return home after her shifts. The hospital is offering alternative housing options for staff who wish to take advantage.

     There has been a huge outpouring of support of medical personnel from coast to coast. Cigrand has seen the support as well from the hospital itself and the community. People have donated homemade PPE, and the hospital provides meals for the COVID staff because they’re not allowed to leave the unit once they start their shift.

     Caring for COVID patients is part of Cigrand’s role as a nurse right now. She doesn’t see it as putting her life on the line, but “simply reporting to work and doing her job.”

     Cigrand is a 2014 graduate of Monticello High School. She is the daughter of Mark and Dawnette Cigrand and Kim and Zach Nickels.


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