Retired nurse ready to lend her skills

Buda native Mary Stone when she was working as a nurse in Canada in the 1980s.

That we are in uncharted waters is beyond dispute. But there are those among us who have experienced some-
one eerily similar to the COVID-19 pandemic in emergency rooms decades ago.

One of them is Buda resident Mary Stone, now retired, who was a young nurse in Canada in the 1980s when what was then called the AIDS epidemic hit.

“I was taking care of people when the ICUs were full of young gay men in downtown Toronto,” she recalled. “We didn’t understand HIV at the time. The feeling (now) is the same as taking care of all the HIV patients. There wasn’t a cure, and it was a virus.”

Watching the COVID-19 pandemic develop and reach into Central Texas, Stone felt as many others of similar backgrounds did — she felt called to help. Stone has signed up as a possible volunteer on a website through the office of Gov. Greg Abbott. “It will be interesting to see the response,” she said.

“I have some pretty solid experience,” she told the Hays Free Press. And in her wheelhouse are particularly needed skills. “I ran ventilators for years,” she said, something that requires a special set of skills she is well-practiced in.

“I’ve been out a long time and haven’t been at a bedside in a long time. Although it’s changed — it hasn’t. I feel I might be a little rusty but could get back in the swing of things fairly quickly.” Though not maybe full-time, she feels she could at least provide some relief to hospital workers.

“At this point, we need anybody that has skills,” she said, especially those with critical care experience. “Critical care units are challenging to work in even in the best of times. You get the sickest of the sick.”

Stone sees only one caveat about stepping in to help out — adequate protective equipment. Now 55 and with asthma, “I want to make sure I stay healthy as well … as long as we have the protective gear health care workers can handle this.

“This is a tough situation and we’re all in it together. It takes a village.”

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