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'It's sad': Baptist Health ICU nurse pleas for public to get vaccinated

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Posted at 7:56 PM, Jul 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-21 19:57:07-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — As the state sees the most COVID-19 cases since March, nurses are pleading with the public to get vaccinated.

Less than a month ago, Baptist Health ICU nurse Kate Rahenkemp says things looked promising. COVID-19 cases were at their lowest and there wasn't a single patient in her hospital's ICU.

Now it's a very different picture. Rahenkemp says she can't believe we're here again.

"I definitely feel like I have some trauma from it because I get a lot of anger with people not wanting to get vaccinated and protect themselves because it's affecting us here in the hospital mentally.

A lot and a lot of us have, you know, increased anxiety and stress from the virus," Rahenkemp said.

One year ago, Rahenkemp says she faced one of the toughest battles of her entire life. When she began treating patients at the hospital, she had her son stay with her parents.

"I was very depressed. Stayed in bed a lot. Went on lots of walks. I think I walked like nine miles a day. That was the only way to get out of bed," said Rahenkemp.

When vaccines became widely available, cases went down, restrictions were lifted, and she felt a little relief.

"That felt great. Not having COVID patients in our ICU or not a high number, and then not on a high number in the hospital was great. We all thought that we're on the other side of things, everything's going to get better," she explained.

Not even a month later, she says it was like a flip of a switch.

"It was like instantly and we had this big surge of COVID again," said Rahenkemp.

As of Wednesday, Baptist Health in Lexington is caring for fourteen COVID patients. Two are in the ICU.

The University of Kentucky hospital is treating 19 COVID patients. Four are in the ICU. The majority of them were unvaccinated.

"It just feels oddly familiar. It feels like we're back, you know last year. And I'm just, I'm sad. I'm sad that we're having to, you know, take care of more of these patients again. It's just hard," said Rahenkemp.

Rahenkemp says it's especially frustrating because now there is something people can do.

"Please get vaccinated. Please, we beg you. We'll take care of you if you come in with, you know, the best of the care that we can possibly give, but we want you to be healthy and safe, and with your family and at home. We don't want you to have to come into the hospital to have to be put on a ventilator and potentially pass away," said Rahenkemp.

That is this ICU nurse's plea.