Amy Grudier in PPE

Trusting God is What Makes COVID-19 Nurse Heroic

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by Clem Boyd, Communication Content Manager

Amy Grudier on leftAmy Grudier, a critical care nurse in Dallas, Texas serving COVID-19 patients, doesn’t think of herself as a hero. In fact, she would say her path has been more of a humbling journey into trusting God’s best for her life.

Grudier, a 2017 nursing graduate of Cedarville University, is currently serving at Dallas (Texas) Parkland Hospital in a Tactical Care Unit, which exclusively treats patients suffering from the novel coronavirus.

— Amy Grudier

The impact of serving at such a historic healthcare facility – Parkland is where U.S. President John F. Kennedy was taken after he was shot in 1963 and where he eventually died – during another historic time has not registered yet.

“It’s a very strange experience to be in the spotlight,” Grudier explained. “It doesn’t feel monumental; it just feels like I’m doing my normal job, except for wearing a lot of extra protective gear. We are taking care of patients, which is what we would do regardless if COVID-19 was happening or not."

“We’re all broken imperfect people,” she added. “We can try to put on a brave, heroic face, but those caring for the sick are also broken. When we’re willing to embrace our own neediness and still choose to step into others’ brokenness, that’s where healing can happen on both sides.

“That’s the kind of heroic act we can all step into regardless of our profession.”

For Grudier, this description of heroic has become very familiar. After commencement in 2017, she was set to begin a critical care internship at Parkland where she would rotate through the hospital’s four intensive care units (ICU) and then choose one to serve in through August 2021.

Her bags were packed and thoughts of where she’d live, what her new work environment would be like, and dreams of adventure in a new big city were electric in her heart and mind. But a breast cancer diagnosis for her mom, Kathy, meant a change of plans.

“I realized pretty quickly God was asking me to stay home,” Grudier said. “It was not good timing to move halfway across the country. I had these big plans and dreams coming out of college. All those dreams had to be put on hold for a while.”

Grudier moved back home to Falls Church, Virginia for the next year to walk with her mom through the difficult treatment process. “Watching someone you love go through something like that is painful,” she said.

She went to work on a medical/surgical unit at the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C., where God continued to unveil his plans for her.

“Most patients in an ICU are sedated and intubated and you have one or two,” Grudier explained. “You use a lot of nursing skills, but not people skills. But in the medical/surgical unit, you’re assigned five or six, and they’re all needing lots of different things at different times. There are lessons I learned through that year I probably wouldn’t have learned otherwise.

“I learned a lot of people skills from the nurses that year.”

By the end of Grudier’s year back home, her mom finished her treatment and was beating the cancer. She’s doing well now and adapting to a new normal. The time for heading west had come.

Grudier drove to Dallas to begin her eight-month critical care internship at Parkland. At the end of that training, she chose the burns ICU. But then the coronavirus pandemic crested the horizon.

Parkland converted a post-anesthesia care unit, reserved for patients coming out of surgery, into a Tactical Care Unit exclusively for COVID-19 patients. Grudier felt the nudging by God to shift focus again.

“I grew up as missionary kid in the Middle East,” she said. “I chose to be a nurse so I could go overseas and, in my mind, the best way to go is where the need is greatest. I wanted to be able to step into a more intense environment where there were limited resources.

“With the Tactical Care Unit, I felt like God was saying, ‘Your whole life you’ve said you wanted to do something like this.’ I can say that I’m willing to step into that big, exciting adventure overseas, but am I willing to step into that here in my own city and hospital?”

— Amy Grudier

The 100-bed TCU has been another unique learning and growing environment for Grudier. All the necessary personnel for COVID-19 patients – certified registered nurse anesthetists, respiratory therapists, nurses, physicians – are on hand 24/7 in the unit. In a normal hospital setting, nurses are present round the clock, but physicians and specialized medical personnel are called in as needed.

“It’s unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed before,” Grudier said. “All the staff are right there together. It’s a very unique opportunity to work so closely with other healthcare professions and to help each other out with all of our patients being in the same room. You still have patient assignments, but this arrangement definitely fuels that teamwork atmosphere.”

The value of the team is something she first experienced as a Cedarville undergrad.

“I was an emergency medical technician (EMT) with Cedarville University EMS for three years,” Grudier explained. “None of us had that much experience, so we relied on each other. Others know more than you or know different things than you do. We learned that as a team you have more knowledge and you can figure out the best way to go about the job.

“Also, you have the team to fall back on. After a difficult EMS run or nursing shift, you learn how important it is to process with the team, learn from the experience and grow.”

Grudier isn’t sure what happens at the end of her contract with Parkland. Serving overseas is still on her mind. But if there’s one lesson she’s learned the last three years, her plans and God’s plans are often different. She might settle for heroic, but he keeps asking her for something bigger: trust.

“God calls us to take steps we wouldn’t necessarily have pictured for our lives,” she said. “But If we trust that He knows what’s best, then we can know what he’s asking us to step into will be best for us whether it’s what we would choose or not. I’m excited to see what’s next.”

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 4,380 undergraduate, graduate and online students in more than 150 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, including the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings and high student engagement ranking. For more information about the University, visit www.cedarville.edu.