Hannah Farr, a critical care nurse at Williamson Medical Center and wife of country star Tyler Farr, is sharing her experience working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For more than a month, Farr and her colleagues at the Franklin, Tenn. facility have been working tirelessly to help patients who’ve contracted the novel coronavirus. When the staff first learned about the virus, they sprung into action and began making preparations such as converting the pediatric wing into a COVID-19 unit in order to accommodate the growing number of infected persons. “There’s so much uncertainty about COVID-19 because we’ve never really experienced it before,” Farr tells Sounds Like Nashville in a phone interview after working four consecutive shifts. “We’re still trying to figure out exactly what’s going on and what the best treatment plan is and how quickly it spreads.”
In her role as a critical care nurse, Farr is often working with the sickest patients, but COVID-19 has brought a unique set of challenges. Farr calls the hospital environment “chaotic” as patients continuously come in with symptoms such as excessive coughing, shortness of breath and fevers reaching as high as 105 degrees. She admits she’s been “shocked” by the vast array of people who’ve contracted the virus, ranging from the elderly and those with preexisting conditions to young, healthy people who need to be placed on ventilators. As the influx of patients continues, the staff often has to work through breaks.
“I wish people could see what we do and they would definitely think twice before leaving the house because it is real. It is here in this community. It is in full force. It does not discriminate,” she urges, describing the situation as “terrifying.” “Some people have mild symptoms, and that’s great, we don’t want people to be sick. But then there’s others that are going to get hit hard and it’s going to end up costing their life. I don’t want to be a part of that – I don’t want to be the reason that someone passed away,” she continues. “I want to do my part and wash hands and stay home and do everything I can to make sure I don’t spread it to anyone that could potentially lose their life from it.”
At the time this article was written, John Hopkins University & Medicine reports that the U.S. has more than 800,000 confirmed cases and nearly 45,000 deaths. As the numbers rise, Williamson Medical Center is actively adapting to the situation. A top priority is to obtain COVID-19 test results within hours or even minutes to establish an effective treatment plan for those who test positive and determine which medications they require and if they need to be on a ventilator. The facility is also looking into the process of placing multiple patients on one ventilator should the machines become scarce, but in a statement posted on the WMC website on April 3, the staff currently has enough ventilators, personal protection equipment and isolation space for COVID-19 patients.
With these measures in place, Farr stresses the importance of practicing social distancing guidelines that require people to remain at least six feet apart and not gather in groups. She ensures that these rules not only keep the general public safe, but also those working on the front lines. “It’s important that people follow the guidelines and stay home and not get out in the public unless absolutely necessary. Hospitals are becoming overwhelmed and when it continues to rise, we’re going to see more patients and the nurses or doctors start contracting it,” Farr determines. “That’s one less person taking care of you or your loved one.”
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Our community’s acts of kindness do not go unnoticed. Thank you to Sign Gypsies-South Williamson County for donating these amazing signs for our campus. Our healthcare workers are truly our heroes!⭐ From clinical to non-clinical employees, we are incredibly appreciative of everything our team does to ensure the health and wellbeing of our patients and our communities.
In spite of these dire times, the WMC staff has felt the positive impact from the community. Several local restaurants have sent food including pizza and barbecue, and Franklin-based Meesh’s Bakery has supplied homemade treats, Farr calling the efforts “uplifting.” Additionally, community members have donated hand-sewn cloth masks that the staff can wear while sitting in the nurses’ station or interacting with patients who aren’t COVID-19 positive. “That has been very much appreciated from all of us,” Farr remarks. Words of gratitude have also been on full display from the likes of Tennessee Rustic Design, who sent the staff wooden signs etched with such phrases as “Thank you for stepping up and being there when we needed you,” while a “Heroes Work Here” yard sign made by Sign Gypsies greets patients as they walk into the facility. Farr herself experienced a particularly heartwarming gesture as a group of residents practicing social distancing lined the sidewalk outside of the hospital holding signs that read “Hero You Are” and “We love you WMC.” “The support from the community is amazing right now,” Farr says gratefully, adding that the signs were “very encouraging.” “It’s good to see that going into work when we don’t know what we’re going to walk into.”
These acts of kindness continue to fuel Farr’s passion for the community that she and her heroic colleagues are working selflessly to protect – creating a sense of unity even in times of separation. “My coworkers, we’re in this together, so we are working better as a team and trying to help each other get through this. It’s definitely been rough and I think there are going to be rougher days ahead, but it is nice to know that you have the community support behind you,” Farr professes. “We’re all in this together and going to get through it.”