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Coral Springs Pediatric ICU Nurse: “Covid Has Taken Such A Toll On So Many Of Us In The Field”



Coral Springs, Florida – No matter how bad Covid-19 got, a Coral Springs mother hasn’t skipped a shift as a pediatric intensive care nurse in Miami.

When she’s scheduled to work, Ashley Donisi-Turner, 32, drives an hour to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, dons heavy protective equipment, and pulls 13-hour night shifts taking care of the sickest of the sickest children in the hospital.

“It’s exhausting,” Donisi-Turner said Monday, during a day off.

Donisi-Turner has been a pediatric ICU nurse for seven years, so she’s used to the long hours and high intensity of the job.

But the unpredictability and danger of Covid-19 has added another layer of stress to the job — mainly the fear of bringing the virus to her Coral Springs home where she lives with her husband, 3-year-old daughter, and 63-year-old mother.

“I’m fully covered at work but the virus can still get you,” she said. “The particles are everything.”

Donisi-Turner is among hundreds of nurses treating Covid-19 patients in South Florida hospitals.

In Coral Springs, City Commissioner Nancy Metayer recently recommended recognizing Donisi-Turner at an upcoming public meeting to bring attention to the hard work and sacrifices of so many nurses and other medical professionals fighting the disease.

The recognition, Donisi-Turner said, is humbling.

“Covid has taken such a toll on so many of us in the field,” she said.

Over the months, she’s helped save dozens of children who got sick from the virus and ended up hospitalized for days, weeks, and even months.

Sadly, two children who were in her unit’s care didn’t make it, she said.

Donisi-Turner thinks about them a lot, but she’s just as focused on the moments when children get to leave the hospital after beating the virus.

Caring for sick children is her job, but it takes even more compassion and strength to help them get through the suffering associated with Covid-19, she said.

“They are scared, and they feel terrible,” she said.

During her long shifts, Donisi-Turner has to get in and out of her gowns, masks, gloves and face shield sometimes a dozen times.

The protective gear, especially the face shield, is heavy, causing her neck pain, headaches, and other aches.

“It’s just awful,” she said.

The good news, she said, is that her unit isn’t as crowded now as it was during the height of the pandemic in the summer months when there were six or seven children hospitalized at any given time. Now it’s closer to two or three.

“I just hope it doesn’t start again,” she said.

Despite the job’s pressure and hardships, not once during those tough summer months did she feel the need to be labeled a hero.

“I was just doing my job,” she said. “It’s what I love to do.”

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