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On The Front Lines: Central Coast Nurse Talks About What It's Like Helping Coronavirus Patients

Courtest Kaitlin Shipley
Nurse Kaitlin Shipley poses before going to work on her shift treating people exposed to coronavirus.

She dreamed of being a nurse, but a Santa Barbara County woman never knew that her ambition would eventually put her on the front lines of a global pandemic. Kaitlin Shipley is a nurse at Lompoc Valley Medical Center. She says it’s the kind of crisis you train for, but realistically never expect to experience.

Shipley is from Santa Barbara, and went through Santa Barbara City College’s nursing program. She graduated last May.

She admits when the first suspected coronavirus cases started to arrive in the Lompoc hospital, she was nervous. But, she says you quickly get used to working with coronavirus patients. The 32-year-old nurse says they work hard to make coronavirus patients know they are in good hands.

She says it must be scary for the seriously ill patients, especially when hospital personnel are wearing so much protective gear they can’t even see your face.

Shipley says the hard part for many medical personnel is being temporarily separated from their loved ones, to keep them safe. In her case, her fiancée has a medical condition which puts him at risk for coronavirus. So, they haven’t been able to stay together for weeks. It’s a situation many first responders face.

The nurse says one of the frustrating things for those on the front lines in hospitals is seeing people who aren’t following social distancing guidelines, and are taking part in large group protests without any type of protection.

She admits she gets a little nervous going to work, but says that happened even before the coronavirus threat became a part of like at the Lompoc hospital.

Shipley says while she appreciates the new appreciation many people are showing towards doctors and nurses, we also need to remember the people like the X-Ray technicians, the aids, and others who are on the front lines, working to save lives in hospitals right here on the Central and South Coasts.

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