Keeping Up with the Krew: Kristi

By: Ben Phelps

During the pandemic, we saw many healthcare workers leaving their families to go out into a world of uncertainty. Krucial Rapid Response and its Krew are no strangers to this reality. During our emergency deployments, we saw many nurses take that step of courage to help others in their greatest time of need. The impact they made is unquestionable. Kristi is one nurse who left a considerable impact on her patients but also on someone closer to her than any of her patients could ever be: her son.  

For Kristi, her journey to become a nurse started in part because of her son. Doing something in the medical field was always the plan for Kristi, and when her son started kindergarten, she started nursing school. Initially, she planned to be a neurosurgeon, but as we saw with COVID, plans change. In the beginning, so many things seemed to block her path. Balancing a family with school is hard enough, but Kristi ran into trouble on her way to her nursing exam. “I got into a car accident that prevented me from taking my exam,” but that didn’t keep Kristi down. There were many obstacles, but she overcame them all and fell in love with nursing. “Within my first quarter, I won a Daisy award,” Kristi said. Later, she went on to win two more, all within her first year of nursing.

It was clear from the beginning: Kristi had burst onto the nursing scene with passion, empathy, and care. “I think just me being Hispanic and having lots of family; it blended for me. It was just something that felt natural, and I love it,” Kristi explained. When COVID happened, that natural nursing spirit took hold of Kristi. She knew she wanted to be a part of the solution to the problem. That led her to Krucial.

In March 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, Kristi flew out to New York to help. She didn’t know how much help she would be at the time. “I thought we were going to go there and let nurses go home and take time off. Little did I know we would be working beside them!” From there, she continued with Krucial, assisting on many deployments throughout the year. Her help was indispensable. Many don’t realize that just one nurse can make such a huge difference.

“You got four to five people in an ER room…and two of them are struggling to breathe. You have people that are aspirating on beds…people who are soaking wet, and you don’t have enough hands, but your priority is the person who just coded,” Kristi said. With so much on the line, Kristi, like many, did everything she could to help. Dealing with overwhelming and difficult situations each day for months at a time became the norm for her. Meanwhile, at home, Kristi’s family eagerly awaited her return.

With so many lives at stake, her family understood why she was gone but still missed her. Her husband and son would ask each week if she could come home. Modern technology helped make the process easier, but a video chat or zoom call doesn’t always cut it. One night when Kristi was on a video call with her husband, they both thought her son was sound asleep, so her husband held the phone near her son to let her say goodnight, “and he woke up and was like, ‘Mama’s home! Mama’s Home!’” But she wasn’t home. For her, that was one of the hardest things to deal with while out on deployment. “I was gone at the age when he was growing into a teenager.” When she returned from deployment, her son “had grown like six inches.” Before this, she had been away from her son for two or three days at most. Having her back home was what they waited for, but Kristi brought with her memories of the time she spent day and night saving lives.

On one of her first nights back home, Kristi’s husband told her, “You were running a code in your dream. I don’t know what, but you said epinephrine.” Of course, Kristi didn’t want to bring the pandemic and all its terror home with her, but after being away for so long, the transition back was difficult. Seeing how deeply it was engrained gave her husband insight into how much Kristi had seen while she was away. Soon her son would also see what kind of difference his mom made while she was away.

After four months of being home, Kristi got to show her son what nursing was all about. On her way to her son’s football practice, she saw a car rollover in the middle of the highway. She turned to her son and said, “Either you’re gonna be late for football, or you’re not gonna make it at all today.” Then she jumped out of the truck and got to work. While helping save two lives, she saw her son watching from her truck. As he watched, her phone rang, and her husband was on the other side. Her son explained, “Mama’s saving somebody.” Watching his mom work allowed Kristi’s son to understand what she was doing for people. Going on deployments was easier for Kristi after that because “right there, my boy said, ‘Mama, the world needs you. I will share you with the world.’”

So many benefitted from that willingness to share. That willingness to share someone so significant was probably inherited from a mom willing to do whatever it takes to help. As a nurse, Kristi knew that the little things make a difference. “Rubbing the seat, holding the hand, washing the hair, braiding the hair, the little things that we don’t think are important, anybody can do that,” Kristi said. It’s because of these habits that Kristi became nominated. Her coworkers noticed that Kristi’s care went above and beyond. Her patients noticed, too. For her, it isn’t just a job, “it’s a passion…When you can change someone’s life and give them that opportunity to see their loved ones for another day—that’s what you do it for.”

Want to share a spectacular nurse like Kristi with the world? Nominate them and reach out to us at social_media@krucialrr.org

“I was gone at the age when he was growing into a teenager.”

Going on deployments was easier for Kristi after that because “right there, my boy said, ‘Mama, the world needs you. I will share you with the world.’”

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