KU Cares: Jayhawks on the Front Lines - Pediatric Nurse Harli Ridling

Harli Ridling was a member of the Kansas softball team from 2014-18. Following her softball career, she continued her education at Oklahoma City Community College where she earned an associate degree of nursing. Now she works as a pediatric emergency nurse for the Children’s Hospital in Norman, Oklahoma. Her normal duties included assessing children’s injuries or conditions upon arrival at the emergency department as well as providing medical care for her patients. Ridling and all those who work at the Children’s Hospital are helping the city get through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kansas Jayhawks

Q. What has the last month or so been like for you?

“It has been a constant change in protocol, proper equipment to be worn and constant education for staff about safety and hazard education.”

Q. How has the virus affected your community?

“The children’s population has not been affected nearly as much; however, people are only bringing their kids to the ER if something is seriously concerning or wrong because they want to stay in and away from the possibilities of exposure.”

Q. What have been the biggest changes at your hospital?

“Our protocol. We now have only three entrances to the hospital open and they are all monitored by nurses and Oklahoma police. The entrance to the ER has a nurse who will assess your symptoms and if you have symptoms that fall within the parameters of COVID-19 symptoms then the nurses and doctors are notified in the back and proper precautions are put in place before the patient is even brought back.”

Q. How has it affected the way you treat patients?

“Treatment is still the same; we take care of them just like we normally would, we just have to have on proper equipment before entering the room. Each time you enter a patient’s room, you must put on new gear and take it off before leaving. Items that we re-use must be bleached after each use. We are being asked to re-use our N95 respirators for the entire shift which is something that is new.”

Q. What does a typical work day look like for you right now? What is your work schedule like in terms of hours and days?

“Normally I will clock into work, have a brief meeting with staff about changes and what patients we have in our rooms or are expecting to see. In our department, we have rooms 14-20 designated for COVID-19 patients and we have two-to-three nurses who are the only nurses allowed in those rooms; we are considered the dirty nurses. Each shift I have worked since this began, I have been a part of what we now call the ‘COVID CREW.’ I work three 12- hour shifts a week.”

Q. What is the general feeling/morale that both you and your coworkers have right now?

“Honestly, we are hoping people stay home so the curve will flatten and things can go back to normal. And we are ready to not have to wear a mask and goggles for the whole 12 hours (haha)!”

Q. What has been the most challenging thing for you during this time?

“Honestly, it’s been really hard to wear a mask, especially an N95 because you are basically rebreathing your own hot air (haha). The amount of PPE we have to wear also makes things slightly more challenging but it’s nothing we nurses can’t handle!”

Q. Do you see any changes that are going to come from this when the pandemic has gotten under control?

“People being more aware of the things they touch and having proper hand hygiene.”

Q. How have you been spending your time when you’re not working?

“I have spent a lot of time outside; taking walks at the lake or going hiking. I hate being kept inside all day so I go places where there are few to no people and just walk, hike and read.”

Q. Do you have any suggestions/recommendations to help people get through this? What can people do on their own to help the medical professionals working on the front lines?

“Stay home, wash your hands, wipe down pretty much anything if you are out and about. Stay positive. If people stay home this will end sooner rather than later. People can just pray for our protection as we care for people who have it or may have it.”