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New Orleans Nurse Tells High School Graduates To Remain Strong

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

High school graduations are continuing across the country. And this week, we are presenting graduation messages from front-line workers.

ASHLEY ROBINSON: Dear class of 2020, my name is Ashley Robinson (ph), and I have been a nurse for nine years.

GREENE: Ashley Robinson works in the emergency room at New Orleans East Hospital.

ROBINSON: Working on the front line during this pandemic has had its ups and downs. My co-workers and I worked hard to adjust to the increase in volume of patients coming to be treated for COVID-19. We had to become creative in finding ways to take care of the influx of patients. During this pandemic, I have learned to be more compassionate for patients because they were alone, scared and without their family.

One day, the ER was filled to capacity. We were taking care of patients in the hall because they were too sick to leave in the lobby. Once, I became so overwhelmed, I had to remove myself. I walked out on a ramp and FaceTimed my husband and broke down. At that moment, I felt defeated and wanted to give up. But I realized the situation was much bigger than me. As a leader, I had to stay strong because not only the patients depended on me, but my co-workers also.

You would have to learn to be strong as well. I know you all had to adjust to this pandemic also. Your senior year ended early and you did not have a prom or graduation ceremony. Even though your celebration isn't traditional, it still is joyous and memorable. So stay strong and continue to persevere. Take time to reflect on the labors of the past, the accomplishments of the present and the possibilities of the future. Congratulations, class of 2020. The world is yours.

(SOUNDBITE OF GORDON'S TSUNAMI WEEK'S "THE PALE LIGHT SOFTENS EDGES")

GREENE: Ashley Robinson is a nurse and clinical supervisor in the emergency room at New Orleans East Hospital. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.