Keeping Up with the Krew: Kayla

By: Courtney Holmes

After seeing Hurricane Katrina, Kayla told herself that if the opportunity ever came up again to serve others on a grand scale in a natural disaster, she was going to volunteer.

Kayla is an 11-year medical-surgical and telemetry nurse out of Ohio who has always had a passion for nursing. Her desire to help in a disaster had always lingered over her, so when COVID-19 hit, she knew this was the chance to fulfill that promise.

None of it was an easy decision as a mother and fiancé. She feels nursing is her calling, but her family is her responsibility.

“We have this rule in our family; we love everyone. When people need help, we help them in our family, so I deployed. I try my best to be an example for [my daughter],” Kayla said.

Kayla’s most significant challenge was leaving those whom she loves, but she credits them as the most incredible supporters. No matter how challenging the deployment was, Kayla was determined to fulfill the promise she made to herself to help others.

“Anything I need, they send it. If I did not have the support, I do not know if I would have made it this long,” Kayla said.

Her journey in crisis nursing has spanned over a year with breaks in between to go home to be with her family, however, Kayla’s journey in pandemic crisis nursing did not start with Krucial.

As COVID-19 cases increased rapidly, she deployed with other companies in Ohio, traveling to Michigan and then Florida. Kayla traveled with multiple staffing agencies, hopping from one to another before she found out about Krucial. Being more of an analytical thinker, she did her research because she had heard Krucial nurses work six days. Although skeptical of the grueling schedule, she decided that she was going to try it.

In November 2020, Krucial put out the call for more medical-surgical nurses.

Many medical staff retreated home for the holidays after almost eight months of fighting COVID-19 at that point, but not Kayla. Knowing that patients did not have the option to go home for the holidays, she intentionally called Krucial to head to Texas to help, knowing what she was giving up – the holidays with her own family. 

This deployment was not without significant obstacles as COVID-19 was raging in Texas. She was there when one of the Texas cities shut down temporarily due to COVID cases surging. There was no nationwide stay-at-home order in late 2020, but for the city, she was in, all non-essential businesses closed. “Stay at home” signs were posted on every street corner. The vaccine was not available yet. Mass messages were on the news telling people to stay home. Retail and food-to-go were still permitted but all residents were instructed to go home immediately with a curfew between the hours of 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. 

Not only did Kayla endure the obstacles in the hospital but was confined to government rules to try to combat the surging cases. 

Uncertainty in the city was rampant where they were stationed, but unity in the Krucial Krew was abundant. 

Back at the hospital, the Krucial Krew and local medical staff had to work together to communicate at an elevated level due to the intensive care unit rapidly running out of beds. They tag-teamed moving equipment, figuring out where to put people as the emergency room flooded with patients. Intensive care nurses had to run to multiple floors to cover every patient. Despite the incredibly odd circumstances stacked against the team, all of them stayed strong, helping as many people as they could. 

“These patients were so sick. They would be fine one minute, then you would be coding them the next, and sometimes they would not make it. Then you had to go into another room, and it was hard because you wanted to be very compassionate. But you do have to have a wall up because you have so many deaths surrounding you, and you must go into the next room and help the next person,” Kayla said.

Kayla had to remember to keep her patients at the forefront of her mind during challenging times. She selflessly took on the opportunity to help those in need during the holidays, staying through Thanksgiving and Christmas until she was sent home. After coming back home, she was able to take several months off to spend quality time with her family.

She returned to Krucial in August 2021 to serve until there was no longer a need in Texas. Some days were more complicated than others, but Kayla was steadfast, knowing the power of her impact. 

“When I am nursing, I look at every patient like they are now a member of my family. They may not want to be there, but no matter what, I always try to give the best nursing care that I can, always,” Kayla said.

Unlike other businesses, the hospitals stay open during the holidays. While it was hard to miss her family, Kayla purposefully stood in the gap to fulfill the need. Because of her selflessness, she was able to spend several months off after the holidays with her daughter in between assignments. They still celebrated the holidays, just a few months after. Luckily, her daughter did not care and enjoyed the extra time Kayla spent with her because of the financial rewards of deployment. 

Today she splits her time between Ohio and traveling to wherever there is a need for nurses with various companies no matter what time of year, on purpose, fulfilling that promise she made herself.

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"When I am nursing, I look at every patient like they are now a member of my family. They may not want to be there, but no matter what, I always try to give the best nursing care that I can, always."

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