Qualls experiences frontline on COVID-19 pandemic
Cherokee Nation citizen and nurse Sasha Qualls protects herself at work by wearing personal protective equipment such as a gown, goggles, face mask and a face shield. COURTESY
Cherokee Nation citizen Sasha Qualls, right, with her husband Bryan and daughter Keelea in a family photo. Qualls works as an obstetrics registered nurse amid the COVID-19 pandemic and takes necessary precautions to protect herself and her family. COURTESY
HULBERT – Months into the COVID-19 pandemic, those on the frontlines, such as Cherokee Nation citizen Sasha Qualls, are doing everything they can to keep themselves and their families safe.
Qualls is an obstetrics registered nurse, and her husband Bryan, who is in law enforcement, are considered “essential” workers and must perform their duties instead of working from home like many employees.
“Your work colleagues become family,” she said. “We spend long tireless hours together. Many employees are adjusting schedules (and) adapting to numerous work environments, all to help where there is a need.”
The hospital where she works has implemented a pre-screening process to decrease potential exposure of the virus to other patients and staff. “The spread of COVID-19 is a continually learning curve for everyone,” she said.
Qualls said she and other staff members are educated on the proper use of personal protective equipment when they encounter any person under investigation (PUI) or any known positive-confirmed patients.
“Prior to any encounter with a PUI/confirmed COVID positive patient, we gown up –mask, goggles, face shield and gloves. During our encounters with PUIs and known confirmed patients, this is not only physically but mentally and emotionally challenging for staff,” she said.
Qualls said being in the medical field, she is prepared to face challenges, but it can be “mentally and emotionally challenging” knowing she could bring the virus home.
“I cannot think of a more rewarding profession than being a nurse and I absolutely love what I do,” Qualls said. “Working in health care you experience a wide array of emotion, but during this global crisis I would say many of us are truly scared. We are not scared to perform our daily duties, but scared that we could potentially bring this home to those we love the most.”
She and her husband have sent their daughter, Keelea, to stay with a grandparent as they continue to work. “This decision was not one that was made lightly. As we hugged bye that night she whispered in my ear ‘please be careful momma.’ I made that promise to her that I would do my best.”
Qualls said she takes every necessary precaution at work, home and in daily tasks.
“Diligent hand hygiene throughout each and every day, our lunches have been modified to practice social distancing as much as possible. I am changing and bagging up my work clothes prior to leaving work,” she said. “As soon as I get home my work clothes are washed and sanitized, and I immediately shower. As far as daily activities, should we need supplies/groceries we do curbside pick-up or order online. Besides that, I am staying home.”
She also hopes people continue to check on those working through the crisis.
“If you know someone who is working the front lines, check in on them and cheer them on,” Qualls said. “Send them a quick message. They are exhausted and something as small as a text message is exactly what they need to get them through their shift.”
Seeing how the virus works first hand, Qualls advises those on how serious it can be and to take necessary precautions. “This virus does not discriminate. It is affecting infants, young, old, male, females, healthy and those with pre-existing medical conditions. I want everyone to encourage and educate your family and friends to practice social distancing and good hygiene. It’s frustrating seeing those continue to have social gatherings. I want people to stay home. This is the real deal. It is not a joke.”