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May 13, 2020

Alumni on the Frontlines: Kim Kirkpatrick Strong'91, '13 (Studio Art, Nursing)

What year did you graduate from Roberts and what was your degree?

I graduated from Roberts twice. In 1991, I graduated with a B.S. in Studio Art, and I worked as a Graphic Designer for 22 years (most of it in the Marketing Department of Roberts). Near the end of that period, I decided it was time for a change, I enrolled in classes again, and in 2013, I graduated with a B.S. in Nursing.

Where are you a Nurse and what unit do you work in?

I am a Labor & Delivery nurse at the Family Maternity Center at Highland Hospital in Rochester, NY.

What is it like to be a Nurse during the COVID-19 pandemic?

It’s a bit surreal. The rest of the world has come to a screeching halt, but for me, life and work has only intensified. Labor & Delivery continues to function fully… people are still having babies… but this pandemic has changed how our unit functions and how we provide care. Policies change on a daily basis… who is allowed in the hospital, what equipment is required, which patients we test, which patients we quarantine. It is also challenging to provide the level of emotional support my patients need when I’m wearing so much protective equipment… it seems like a barrier between us.

How did the program you studied at Roberts prepare you for this health crisis?

I keep having flashbacks to microbiology with Dr. Peter LaCelle! Everything I learned about infectious diseases and infection prevention helped prepare me for this. Roberts didn’t have a course dedicated specifically to epidemiology, but it was included as content in other courses. I even remember an assignment in which I had to develop a plan for mass vaccination/treatment in the wake of an epidemic!

How do you remain positive?

I choose to remain positive. It would be easy to get caught up in the panic and the fear caused by this pandemic, to go to work feeling anxious and afraid that I might contract Covid. But I choose not to live in fear. Also, self-care! Taking care of myself, exercising, relaxing, connecting with the people I love… those things help keep me centered and renew my energy, which gives me the emotional strength I need to remain positive.

How can you support others in your profession during the pandemic?

There has been such an awesome outpouring of community support the last few weeks. My unit has received countless deliveries of meals and snacks, and we have loved every bite! We found out quickly that wearing a mask for 12 hours can cause skin breakdown behind our ears, so people are making special headbands and mask clips for us. Sidewalk art in front of our hospital, posters in the front lobby, signs on front lawns… these are all so encouraging. And my coworkers, my fellow nurses, residents, docs, techs… we all support each other… we’re all in it together.

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