The Essentials: Nurse volunteers for COVID-19 unit at Alliance Health Center in Meridian

Bill Graham / The Meridian Star

When a special unit was set up at Alliance Health Center for patients who tested positive for the coronavirus, Claire Price stepped up to assist.


When a special unit was set up at Alliance Health Center for patients who tested positive for the coronavirus, Claire Price was more than willing to step up and assist.

“We’re not a medical hospital, but we still have patients who have tested positive for the coronavirus,” said Price, who is a registered nurse for the Meridian mental health facility. “When the isolation unit was first set up, the hospital asked for volunteers among the staff to help. In a medical hospital you don’t have a choice, but we did. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to volunteer and to be among the few who said ‘yes.’”

Price’s readiness to help during a medical crisis is a reflection of her commitment to the wellbeing of her patients.

“At a time such as this, I especially want to be able to help and make a difference,” Price said. “Sometimes nurses, especially those who work in a psych hospital, feel they are not as helpful. During this pandemic, I feel that if I am able to step up, I should.”

And stepping up has meant working extra, particularly weekends. Fortunately, Price, 34, has a support system at home.

“My husband has been ‘Super Daddy’ on the weekends that I am scheduled to work,” she said of her husband Lance’s care of their 2 1/2-year-old daughter Landy. “He knows I am passionate about nursing and supports my career 100 percent.”

As a medical professional, Price is well informed about communicable disease outbreaks as well as other public health issues. However, when the coronavirus was first identified as potentially becoming a nationwide outbreak, she admits she did not think it was serious.

“At first I thought it was basic flu,” said Price, who completes treatment plans for patient care and assists with patient advocacy at Alliance. “But as I learned more and did more research on the virus, I became more aware and realized the seriousness of the disease.”

Which has meant taking precautions — at home and work.

“At work, I wear head-to-toe personal protective equipment, as well as perform hand hygiene every 15 minutes, wear a mask all day, remain 6 feet away from others and constantly clean and sanitize my work space and equipment,” she said. “Our temperatures are checked each time we arrive for our shift as we enter the building.”

Price takes extra clothes to work to change into at the end of shift before going home. And while she is taking all the necessary precautions, Price admits she still has concerns.

“My biggest concern has been contracting the virus and possibly exposing my family and others due to having treated and cared for patients with the virus,” she said.

“I’m also concerned that many people aren’t taking the pandemic seriously. Our generation especially has not dealt with anything like this before and many of them are not taking the necessary precautions and are putting not only themselves, but others at risk.”

Despite her concerns, Price has realized there are a few silver linings to the current medical crisis.

“I have learned that I’m stronger than I realized, and that even though there is such a threat right now, I am willing to step up and do whatever it takes to care for others,” she said. “I’ve also learned that people are good and are willing to help and that healthcare workers are appreciated. That makes me feel good.”

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