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Former swimmer is on the front lines of COVID-19 pandemic
Swimming and Diving  . 

Former swimmer is on the front lines of COVID-19 pandemic

by Brad Muller, Director of Content

Athletes are often looked upon as heroes. Former South Carolina swimmer Brooke Morton (2013-2016) certainly fits the description, but it’s not just because she was good at her sport. Morton works on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic as a registered nurse in the Emergency Department at a hospital in Raleigh, N.C.

“I definitely don’t have any regrets doing what I do,” Morton said. “The best and most challenging parts of working in the Emergency Department is that it keeps you on your toes. You never know what you’re going to see. I would have never guessed a year ago I would be dealing with a pandemic, but you just have to take it one day at a time and be adaptable.

“I don’t think there’s anyone that was prepared for this pandemic, but I love what I do. You have to have passion in a field like this. It’s the same passion you have to have to be involved in college athletics. Not every day is going to be the best, but it’s all worth it in the end.”

Morton graduated from South Carolina in 2016 with a degree in exercise science and went on to do an accelerated Bachelor of Nursing program at Northeastern University.

“There are too many great memories to count from my time at South Carolina,” Morton said. “I met some of my best friends during my four years in Columbia.”

“My best advice for people is to stay home and stay positive.”

Morton has worked as a registered nurse for the last year and a half. She moved to North Carolina and initially worked in Charlotte at Atrium Health in the Emergency Department before moving on to work at Wakemed Raleigh in the Emergency Department.
Brooke Morton action
“Wakemed Raleigh’s E.D. is sectioned into five different bays for a total of 80-plus beds,” Morton said. “As soon as COVID-19 became prevalent, one of the bays was designated specifically for potential COVID-19 patients. Tents are also set up in the front of the E.D. for quick testing. Not all patients that test positive are admitted. It’s dependent on the severity of the symptoms. Our policies are changing everyday just as they are in the rest of the country.

“In regard to how busy the Emergency Department has been, it really depends on the day. Our designated COVID-19 bay stays consistently busy, but the rest of the E.D. has had a fairly light volume. People are listening and staying home, which is great. Initially we did have a lot of people coming in wanting to be tested with no symptoms, but we are saving the tests for symptomatic patients.”

In light of the spread of COVID-19, Morton and her co-workers have to take extra precautions.

“Masks are supposed to be worn from the time we walk into the hospital until the time we walk out,” Morton said. “For patients that are being tested for COVID-19 we wear a gown, gloves, mask, and eye goggles. We also have ‘CAPR; systems which are saved for patients receiving aerosolized treatments. A ‘CAPR’ basically looks like a giant space helmet that blows HEPA filtered air into a chamber to breathe.

“Getting sick is definitely a scary thought, but that being said I’m a healthy young person and taking all the precautions is all we can do.”

Putting yourself in harm’s way for the sake of others is hard for some to fathom. Morton takes the highs and lows associated with her job in stride.

“The thing I like most about working as a nurse in the E.D. is that you never know what’s coming or what the night is going to be like,” Morton said. “We see everything from gunshots and major car accidents to blisters and coughs. You just have to roll with it so it’s always exciting.

“Unfortunately, I don’t have any great success stories from COVID-19. Working in the Emergency Department we only see patients at the beginning of their stay. If they are admitted. we don’t get to follow through their care.”

As she prepares for another day in the Emergency Department, Morton, like everyone else, looks forward to the days when things return back to normal.

“My best advice for people is to stay home and stay positive,” Morton said. “Staying home keeps you and those around you safe. We will all get through this!”