Nurses discuss their pandemic trials and fears on Mother's Day

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — This Mother's Day is very different this year, as nurses put in triple time at home and on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19. 

"I'm thinking about my front line friends and what they are going through during this pandemic," said Marion Leary, director of innovation at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. 

A mother as well, she said some nurses carry a larger burden on this holiday, the constant fear of contracting the virus and potentially exposing their familes.

Wendy Palma is a critical care nurse and mother of three, who spoke with KYW Newsradio moments after she ended her Mother's Day morning shift.

She stays at a hotel between shifts in order to minimize her risk of exposing her family to the virus. "The fear is real," she shared. "Some days you feel like you are heading into a battle yet the enemy is invisible." 

Palma said resources are slim, and their only weapon is personal protective equipment. "You pray it keeps you safe," she said. "It’s been an emotional rollercoaster some weeks reassuring my girls I’ll be okay."

She said her ideal Mother's Day gift would be for all of her patients suffering from COVID-19 to recover and be discharged to their families.

The sacrifices made by health care workers aren’t going unnoticed. 

Community members like Byanka Diggs from Germantown said the work they're doing is heroic. "I want to thank all the nurses out there," she said.

And Taylor Rikks, whose mother is a nurse working non-stop, said she knows firsthand what her mother and those on the front lines are giving up.

"I'm missing her this Mother's Day and I'm also grateful for all she's done."

The Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management is coordinating efforts to collect PPE donations. More information can be found here.