NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - SFA senior nursing students Katelyn Takacs and Kyle Balbock spend hours screening calls placed into the COVID-19 call center in Nacogdoches.
"I came back to help out,” said Takacs. “I was at home and we found out we could be getting to help at the call center."}
An annual disaster drill for May graduates was canceled and replaced with a real-life experience.
"We're learning real triage information and how to communicate with patients," said Takacs.
Board exams and internships would normally fall after graduation, but Governor Abbott's waiver allows graduate and vocational nurses, who have yet to take their exams, to temporarily practice under supervision.
"They're looking at an opportunity for nursing students to be able to kind of fill in should the workforce start thinning because nurses are becoming ill," explained Dr. Tammy Harris, SFA Richard and Lucille Dewitt School of Nursing director.
State Representative Travis Clardy supports the waiver for his constituents and his family.
"I've got a father-in-law right now in assisted living in Tyler. He really needs assistance,” shared Clardy. “But family members can't come in like we used to. Even paid help can't come out like they used to. And the staff if they have a run, they have a breakout from some of those staff members contract the virus, and inevitably they will."
Both Takacs, who plans to work in an emergency room and Balbock, whose plans are ICU, are anticipating the need to come on earlier. They have jobs waiting for them in the COVID hotspot of Dallas.
“I’m going to a place that needs a lot of help. That’s why I became a nurse because I care about people,” shared Balbock. “I want to serve people and help them get well and so there’s a golden opportunity right now.”