Pursuing her passion and goals, meeting a need and making a difference

Roger Coda
student in personal protection gear

Kayla Purcell making Fredonia proud!

Fredonia Medical Technology major working on hospital COVID-19 floor

For Kayla Purcell, a sophomore Medical Technology major at Fredonia, the faces of COVID-19 victims don’t live only on television newscasts or in newspapers. They are a part of her life as a patient care technician (PCT) and member of medical teams treating COVID-19 patients at Rochester General Hospital.

“I am seeing patients, but I consider myself to be someone supporting the doctors, nurses and PAs who are really on the front lines managing the treatment of these patients,” Purcell noted. “I love it, the people I work for, the patients. I love learning something new every single day” Purcell added.

“I love it, the people I work for, the patients. I love learning something new every single day” Purcell added.

Purcell has been assigned to 4800, the medical specialty unit where Rochester General, a 528-bed tertiary care hospital, treats COVID-19 patients.

With a career goal of becoming a physician assistant, Purcell had planned to work this summer as a PCT at Rochester General to get a head-start on the 1,000 hours of direct patient care that most graduate schools require for applicants in their PA programs, but was summoned earlier by the hospital. She began PCT training in the third week of April, working 20 hours a week, while continuing her Fredonia course work online, as all students are doing.

“As techs, we work as a team with nurses, doctors or PAs, providing care for patients. I take vitals, am in charge of feeding and the care of the patient. If a patient needs anything, they contact me. If I see anything going wrong with the patient when caring for them, I report to the RN above me,” Purcell explained. She has started running some tests, such as EKGs, and will soon begin drawing blood.

Purcell sees COVID-19 patients every day, and as part of their care, asks them how they are feeling, if they are comfortable or are in need of something. “Whatever they need I try to get it for them,” she said.

“Patients are focused on getting better, doing what they have to do,” Purcell said.

Does Purcell have concerns about her own safety when caring for COVID-19 patients?

“No, I don’t, because I have faith and trust in the people around me that they are practicing safe procedures. I know if I pay attention to what I have to do and follow protocols, that I know I’ll be protected.”

“RGH does an excellent job protecting us,” Purcell said.

“My floor is the only floor currently with COVID patients, so we have the most protective gear as of now in the hospital. We have to wear scrubs given to us every day that we cannot wear out of the hospital,” Purcell said. “If we enter a COVID-19 patient’s room we need to wear full PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), including gowns, face masks and face shields, and follow the procedures for putting them on.”

About half the patients on Purcell’s floor are COVID-19 patients, the other half are vented/respiratory patients other than COVID-19, so all team members must be very cautious going from patient to patient, Purcell said.

What has been the biggest takeaway so far for Purcell?

“How much I love the medical field and how hard I want to work to achieve goals that I have in the medical field,” Purcell said. The RGH experience has confirmed her decision to become a PA.

Purcell’s work hours will increase when the spring semester ends, allowing her to take on more duties and add job shadowing to her schedule.

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