News ID: 269687
Published: 0726 GMT June 01, 2020

Pennsylvania nurse redeployed to work with mother, grandmother amid pandemic

Pennsylvania nurse redeployed to work with mother, grandmother amid pandemic
Paige Wichurowski (R), now works with her mother Bernadette James (L), and her grandmother, Annmarie Nolter, center, at Geisinger Shamokin Area Community Hospital.

Just a few months into her new job as a nurse, Paige Wichurowski was one of hundreds of employees at a central Pennsylvania hospital system redeployed amid the COVID-19 pandemic. She ended up closer to home than she could have realized.

Wichurowski, a 23-year-old licensed practical nurse, was working in the outpatient pediatric clinic for Geisinger Health System in Danville, Pennsylvania after graduating from nursing school late last year. Within weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down or limited appointments and procedures at Geisinger facilities across the system’s footprint in northeastern Pennsylvania, reported.

In order to fight off furloughs, the system redeployed employees into other roles which took on greater significance. That meant Wichurowski would now be spending her shifts at nearby Geisinger Shamokin Area Community Hospital, a place that felt like home to the new nurse.

“I worked there as an aide when I was younger and I sort of grew up there,” Wichurowski said. “I knew the lay of the land and volunteered to go there.”

She also has found a mentor at the facility. Her mother, Bernadette James, works on the floor as a nurse as well. Her grandmother, Annmarie Nolter, works in environmental services on the same floor.

“We kind of work together at times,” Wichurowski said. “My mom is one of my biggest resources. She’s been there so long, it’s like she’s all-knowing when it comes to that place.

“She’s been an incredible resource.”

There is also the delicate balance of her mother offering motherly advice versus professional advice.

“I take it more as a superior, wise nurse talking to a new nurse,” Wichurowski said. “She is good at distancing ‘this is my child,’ to ‘this is a new nurse.’ She tells me what I need.”

During her time in the Danville clinic, Wichurowski spent her days with wellness visits for newborns, assisting doctors and giving vaccinations. At Shamokin, she said she now has a role more similar to a surgical nurse, working with inpatients.

“There is a lot more responsibility because the patients are sicker. Their care is more demanding with more medications. I get to apply more of the knowledge I just learned as a student.”

Geisinger President and CEO Dr. Jaewon Ryu has highlighted the flexibility of Geisinger staff during the coronavirus pandemic. “The creativity, ingenuity and flexibility of our employees have allowed us to keep the hospitals running,” he said during a press conference earlier this month.

“As nurses, we want to go where we can help the best. We’re helpers,” Wichurowski said. “For me, it was an easy decision, I wanted to help where I could and whoever needed the help.”

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