Editor’s note: Our new series On the Front Lines recognizes those in the community who are confronting the coronavirus pandemic head on, while the rest of us do our part by stepping back.
Carey Brazzle, a registered nurse for the last 18 years, found herself displaced from her regular job when the COVID-19 pandemic closed Providence’s ambulatory surgery center in Spokane Valley.
Brazzle was offered work at a number of places but felt called to the COVID-19 screening site at the Spokane County Fair & Expo Center, she said. That was about 1 1/2 weeks ago. She’s been at the fairgrounds on and off since.
“I believe it’s an important test,” Brazzle said. People with symptoms “desperately need to be tested for COVID-19 and isolated for a better outcome in our community.”
Her job is to run people through a list of COVID-19 symptoms and risk factors to determine if they should be tested for the disease. If that’s the case, she’s the one who collects a sample from patients with a swab and tells them how to care for themselves – namely, lots of fluids and rest.
Brazzle, who has lived in Spokane for most of her life and has worked in other local medical systems, said her passion for medicine began when she was playing with dolls and pretended to listen to their heartbeats.
She later went on to get her education in nursing at Spokane Community College.
Regardless of whether she collects a sample from someone for COVID-19 testing or tells them they don’t meet the criteria, she said she feels she’s educating her community.
“I definitely love it out here,” Brazzle said. “I think it’s a great feeling of knowing we’re helping the community. … Most people leave here relieved.”
The most difficult part, she said, is helping people whose employer is requiring them to be tested or screened for work. She said she makes sure to give them a picture of the screening questionnaire if they don’t meet testing criteria.
“I think that’s the fear,” Brazzle said of people not being able to work during this difficult time.
Brazzle praised health care workers in emergency rooms and intensive care units who are likely exposed to COVID-19 daily.
“They deserve big shoutouts, anybody in those departments,” she said.
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