Keeping Up with the Krew: Katie

By: Maria Blong

People often choose career paths to find fulfillment in life, and for some, stepping in to serve others is a natural road to wander down. Prior to joining Krucial as a KOR, Katie was the director of food and beverage at a hotel chain. The constant to-do list and attending to others’ needs gave Katie purpose and kept her moving at a pace she enjoyed.  

After Katie was furloughed in March of 2020, it was a short time before she was itching for a new routine outside the walls of her home.   

“I had no idea what I was signing up for or what I was doing,” Katie said.  

She attended the first KOR Academy in San Antonio, Texas of July 2020. Katie was trained on procedures and logistics for making sure the nurses arrived on time for a shift, but similar to everyone else at the time, she didn’t have a full understanding of COVID-19.  

“It was very emotional,” Katie reflected about her first assignment in Texas, “I was really nervous at first not knowing that [the nurses] would rely on me so much. They shut down the hotel and turned it into a hospital because all the hospital beds were full. I had nurses, grown women and men, professionals that were coming home bawling their eyes out because they had seen so much death and not feeling like they were even needed.”  

In response to the mental health challenges medical staff were facing, Krucial provided external resources to support them, such as the 10-33 Foundation. Unfortunately, their troubles didn’t end there. They dealt with PPE and supply shortages in addition to the persistent fear of contracting COVID-19. 

“In the beginning, we wouldn’t even let nurses into the office,” Katie said. “They had to go straight to their room to decontaminate before they could come down. I didn’t think about that when I left, that I could be at risk of covid until I got down there. I spent three months on my first deployment.” 

After her time in San Antonio ended, Katie made the move to Corpus Christi for her second deployment. 

“I felt like I was doing my part, not that I didn’t feel that way the first round, but it was kind of loosening up,” Katie said. “At that first Christmas, they thought they would start demobilizing people to go home, then it blew back up.” 

Katie continued to support the medical staff throughout the Delta variant, finding friendship among her fellow KORs, but she soon endured hardships of her own.  

While she was away on assignment, Katie’s grandma passed away and the regret of not being able to say goodbye ate at her. Shortly after the event, Katie decided to take a break and went back home to her previous life. She spent three months working at the hotel and said it was the worst three months of her life. The hotel was short-staffed, her pay was the same, the hours were grueling, and the hospitality aspect went away. She soon realized she didn’t want to do it anymore.  

Cut to a couple months later, Katie is back on assignment with Krucial and staying as busy as ever.  

“That’s another thing people don’t understand,” Katie said, “your phone doesn’t stop ringing or going off. You’re literally on the clock 24 hours. You may be sleeping at times, but you may be woken up by a sick nurse.” 

One night, Katie was woken up by a phone call at 2 a.m. from one of her nurses. She was panicking about her fingers going numb and kept repeating to Katie, “Something’s wrong, something’s wrong. I know my body and something’s wrong.” 

Katie drove the nurse to the emergency room. The next morning, Katie received word about the nurse’s condition: she had a brain tumor the size of grapefruit on her frontal lope. The nurse had shown no symptoms beforehand. Katie had to call the nurse’s husband to tell him the news.  

Fortunately, after undergoing surgery and entering rehab, the nurse is on track to having a full recovery. 

“She still calls me,” Katie said. “Any time it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, any major holiday, she always calls me and tells me how blessed she is that I was her KOR because if I hadn’t taken her to the emergency room she might not be here today. I don’t know how true that is, it just makes me feel good.” 

In big and small ways, Katie was always there for the Krucial Krew, staying on as KOR through the second and third waves of the pandemic. But after spending a year and a half living in a hotel, she was ready to go home – she missed her bed, her dog, her family, going grocery shopping, and making food.  

Through it all, she remains grateful for the experience and everything it gave her in return. 

“I’ve met so many new friends that I’ll probably have for life,” Katie said. “We’ve been in the same boat. We helped each other through it too.” 

Want to nominate someone to be featured? Please reach out to us at  social_media@krucialrr.org 

“I’ve met so many new friends that I’ll probably have for life. We’ve been in the same boat. We helped each other through it too.”

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