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Published on September 03, 2020

Nurse Runs to Care for COVID-19 Patients

Lovely Blanchard uses exercise as therapy for herself and colleagues.

While some want to get as far away as possible from anything related to the coronavirus, others run toward it. Quite literally! A Cone Health nurse who volunteered to work at the COVID-only Green Valley campus runs to and from her 12-hour night shift most days.

That's 7 miles round trip. Lovely Blanchard, RN, says the time helps ground her in what matters most. "It helps me work through the hard things in my mind."

She has processed some difficult losses. Blanchard is the oldest girl of 9 children in a family whose matriarch died of breast cancer 13 years ago. Blanchard was cast into a substitute mother role for her now-15-year-old little brother. She has also had two close family members take their lives. And at the Green Valley campus, the COVID-19 deaths are nearing 150, so her workplace has presented its own pace of sad reality. The critical care nurse credits running with keeping her centered and happy.

"I learned early in my nursing career that I'm not in charge of death and dying," explains Blanchard of her outlook on COVID-19. "That's another department," she jokes. "As a nurse, though, I can do everything I can to support our patients and what they need."Staff exercising in hallway

Blanchard's passion for staying active as a medicine for mind, body and spirit includes engaging coworkers in light calisthenics. She will "call a Code Green" when the demands of the shift allow it. She explains, most are unfamiliar and come to see what is needed. That's when Blanchard organizes the recruits into a brief exercise session of Pilates arm workouts and deep knee bends.

Remember, this is a COVID-positive campus, so all staff wear full personal protective equipment. Blanchard credits her coworkers: "It's even more admirable they still do it with all that on."

And admirable Blanchard spends break time keeping colleagues on night shift active.

"Lovely brings a lot of positive energy to our campus," says Green Valley's Chief Nursing Officer Waqiah Ellis, RN.