“A Nurse With One Lung Had COVID-19. Other Nurses Saved Her.”

In the coronavirus era, nurses are called heroes. Sometimes, the lives they save are those of other nurses.

When Crystal Holloway entered the room on the 14th floor of Northwestern Memorial Hospital to introduce herself to a new patient, Tanya Adell-O’Neal was so out of breath, Holloway remembered, she could barely speak. But she got out a few crucial words:

“I have to tell you,” Holloway, an ICU nurse, remembered Adell-O’Neal saying. “I’m a nurse myself.”

I was like, ‘Oh, God …’” Holloway recalled. “Like, ‘I hope that she’s not critiquing me … critiquing my techniques.’ That was absolutely the first thing I thought.”…

Quickly, she realized they both had larger concerns.

Adell-O’Neal, 53, has asthma and one lung, the other having been removed along with a tumor while she was a nursing student. And for 12 days in a hospital bed at Northwestern, she fought against COVID-19.

Since the coronavirus has swept through the country, nurses have been praised as heroes for their role in fighting the pandemic. But nurses who care for patients with COVID-19 have also become patients — and sometimes, casualties — themselves. The relationships nurses have with their patients who are nurses can be emotional and complicated. They can also be cathartic…

Read more at propublica.org

Photographs by Anjali Pinto

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