Bismarck RN: ‘I don’t have anyone at home I can expose’

Sanford Health nurse who helped after Vegas shooting now helps COVID-19 patients

Jessica Noeske, a Sanford Health registered nurse, puts on her personal protective equipment.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to loom over our daily lives, we’re reminded of the resilient doctors, nurses and other front line health care workers who are working diligently to care for patients.

Jessica Noeske is one of those people.

“She’s a saint,” said Brad Erickson, safety director at Sanford Health in Bismarck, North Dakota. “I told her that this morning. I said I’m nominating you for sainthood.”

At the time, Noeske, a registered nurse, had been working several days straight in the designated COVID-19 unit at Sanford Bismarck Medical Center.

Nurse in full personal protective gear
Jessica Noeske, a registered nurse at Sanford Health in Bismarck, wears a powered air purifying respirator (PAPR) before entering a patient's room with COVID-19.

Photo by Sanford Health

“This is the thing I need to do,” Noeske said. “I’m a nurse. I signed up to take care of people.”

‘I see how engaged she is with these patients’

Erickson has been working closely with the front line workers in the COVID-19 unit. He says Jessica’s compassion for these patients is vibrant.

“She’s just grinding through this,” Erickson said recently. “She’s on her sixth or seventh straight day working up here. That’s her elective decision. Every day, I see how engaged she is with these patients.”

Noeske isn’t immune to scenarios requiring immediate need for essential health care workers. She went to nursing school in Las Vegas and witnessed firsthand the trauma of the 2017 mass shooting.

“Unfortunately, I was exposed to the Vegas shooting and experienced a scenario like that where we had a rapid influx in patients,” Noeske said.

Helping co-workers, patients

Now, she has dedicated herself solely to caring for coronavirus patients staying in the hospital.

“I’m single, I live alone, I don’t have anyone at home that I can expose,” she said. “I figured other people have kids, they maybe have sick family members or underlying medical conditions. I don’t have any of that, so I figured I would come up and do my part so others can take care of themselves and their families.”

Since she began working in the COVID-19 unit, she’s seen some pretty incredible things.

“I had a patient who was intubated, and now, he’s recovering and doing much better,” Noeske said. “To see a COVID patient recover has been really awesome.”

Erickson says these patients are in great hands having Noeske look after them.

“If I ever get sick, I want her taking care of me,” Erickson said.

And, she’s committed to her role.

“I need to do this to help those who don’t have the same freedom as I do,” she said.

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Posted In Bismarck, Coronavirus, Sanford Stories

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