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Coronavirus Heroes Part 6: Katie Soldevila is one of many fighting the battle on the frontline

This is the sixth in the EAGLE’s 10-part Coronavirus Heroes series. Every weekend, a new Coronavirus Hero will be featured. This week’s Coronavirus Hero is Katie Soldevila, nurse practitioner at Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi.

Once Lafayette County received its first positive case of the novel coronavirus on March 19, nurses and doctors were called upon to become the first line of defense against an invisible threat.

That included Katie Soldevila, a nurse practitioner in the emergency room at Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi. For her, the already high-stress job became even more stressful, as she now had to treat COVID-19 patients while making sure she did not infect other patients, coworkers or herself.

“It’s definitely kind of nerve-wracking at first,” Soldevila said. “All the different information coming out. But I feel like at the hospital, all the nurses, doctors, respiratory and administration were very quick at getting information out to use as far as how we needed to be prepared.”

Hospitals across the world were pressed to their limit, and some exceeded it, while treating patients during the pandemic. Working in the emergency room, Soldevila is one of the first people to encounter someone who may have tested positive for COVID-19 as well as still treating patients who are coming for other medical needs.

Following guidelines and keeping COVID-positive patients separated from non-COVID patients is the first and possibly biggest job Soldevila and the rest of the emergency room staff must accomplish.

“Basically, we’ve been protecting ourselves, regardless of what the patient is there for, with everybody (wearing) the mask and all the patients wearing mask,” Soldevila said. “There is that extra protection there, but I think it has been helpful there’s been certain rooms that we’re using for the possible COVID patients to try to keep the people that are not there for COVID safe from that.”

Keeping a smile on her face and staying upbeat is one of the first practices Soldevila said she uses when treating her patients, no matter the diagnosis. What some may consider going the extra mile during extremely serious and stressful times for healthcare workers, seems like a normal approach for Soldevila.

“I try to always treat my patients as if they were my family or how I would want somebody to care for my family,” Soldevila said. “I think always, but especially now, an honor and a privilege to be able to try to be a little bit of a bright spot for people that are there for obviously worrisome or very scary time for somebody that is in the emergency room. I just try to be a calming, bright spot in their storm that they’re going through.”

The risks taken are not exclusive to within the four walls of the hospital. When Soldevila leaves for the day and returns home, she must also continue to be careful and vigilant in her protective process before reuniting with her family.

Some doctors and nurses are quarantining themselves from the rest of their families by staying in the garage, a separate part of their house or even renting a hotel room. Soldevila said she knows it’s not that simple for some.

“Obviously, you can’t completely distance yourself from your children and your family,” Soldevila said. “Just taking extra precautions and keeping my change of clothes in the car and shoes and my hand sanitizer, so before I walk into my house, I try to have all of my work clothes changed so I don’t carry any of those germs in. But that is always in the back of your mind – is there potentially something I’m going to bring home to my family?”