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Perspective | On the front lines with James Sprunt nursing alum Carol Hinson

Nurses are taught to be prepared for anything, but the pandemic of 2020 is something that no one saw coming or could have predicted.

“This is a surprise,” said Carol Hinson, a graduate of the James Sprunt nursing program. “I don’t think anyone was 100% prepared but we’ve done a remarkable job at being proactive instead of reactive to this situation.”

Carol is a nurse at New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, North Carolina. She works in the operating room, and as of now, they are only allowing urgent, emergency surgeries to occur. She says that at any time during this crisis she can be “disbursed to any floor, wherever I may be needed. They will make the switch, whether it is ICU or to the Emergency Room.”

Carol is prepared for any of those possibilities. Throughout her 27-year career, she has worked as a floor nurse, in the ICU, in-home health, at doctor’s offices, with oncology, and in med-surg.

“I’ve done it all,” says Carol.

Carol Hinson, surgical nurse and JSCC alum. Courtesy of James Sprunt Community College

In addition to her experience, she also attributes much of her success and preparedness to what she learned while studying at James Sprunt.

“James Sprunt prepared me for any kind of nursing that I wanted to do,” said Carol. “The nursing program was great, the instructors prepared me for this moment in time. In the 27 years since I’ve been working, the basics of nursing have stayed the same.”

And she says with a smile, “The nursing program taught us how to wash our hands, and that will never change.”

Washing your hands, Carol says, is one of the best ways to stop the spread of COVID-19, but it’s not the only way to flatten the curve.

“We need the public to stay home, that is crucial,” said Carol. “Someone may have a strong immune system but maybe their parents or grandparents do not. People need to think about where they are and where they are going to, and who they are going to be around.”

While some may not understand the social distancing guidelines, Carol says that as the virus spreads, it puts more of a burden on the healthcare system and puts medical workers’ lives on the line.

“This is easy to catch,” she said, “All you have to do is touch a surface and then touch your face, and you have it. People don’t even realize how many times they touch their face.”

She adds that we need to do all we can to protect those most vulnerable to this disease.

Carol says she is being screened daily, as are others, before they are allowed to enter the hospital to go to work, with her temperature being taken. She is practicing social distancing, just as the CDC recommends, to help prevent the spread, to protect herself, her patients, and those she works with.

“Nobody gets hugs or anything like that,” says Carol. “We have taken every precaution that we can.”

Carol says that they have seen patients with COVID-19 and they are doing the best they can to care for those individuals. So far, there have been at least 55 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and one death related to the virus in New Hanover County.

When asked if she thought of herself as a hero, Carol said, “No, I consider myself to be a nurse. This is what I signed up for, to take care of people. It wasn’t for a salary or a pat on the back. I know this is what I was meant to do.”

Carol acknowledges that there is a shortage of nurses, and she advises nursing students to not be discouraged.

“This will pass and we are going to need you,” she said. “Volunteer if you can, don’t lose hope.”

She adds that we will get to the other side of the curve, but only “if everyone stays home. We are working so that we can be here for you, so please stay home for us.”

This perspective was first posted by James Sprunt Community College. It has been posted with the author’s permission.

Cheryl Hemric

Cheryl Hemric is the public information officer at Robeson Community College. Hemric has worked in the North Carolina Community College System, promoting student success, for over 20 years. She is a proud graduate of a community college, holding an associates degree in advertising and graphic design, and loves to share the story of how education can changes lives and give people hope. She received her bachelor’s degree from Liberty University and her master’s degree in marketing from Southern New Hampshire University.