Houston Nurse Chronicles Her Experience During Coronavirus Pandemic

For one Houston nurse, the pandemic meant upended family life and job loss.

Mikhaila Rutherford was working at Memorial Hermann Hospital when the coronavirus pandemic hit Houston.

This story is part of Houston Public Media’s ongoing coronavirus coverage. Click here to see more of our coronavirus news and resources.


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The coronavirus pandemic has pushed health care workers to the limit. In Houston, for many doctors and nurses, it’s been a very different, if challenging experience.

Consider how it upended the life of one Houston nurse.

Mikhaila Rutherford was working at Memorial Hermann Hospital when the pandemic started. She recently had to quit because her husband got deployed by the Army to help with the coronavirus response on the East Coast and her son’s daycare couldn't accommodate her 12-hour shift.

Listen to our conversation with Rutherford above, or read some excerpts below, edited for length and clarity.

Nurses: On The Front Lines of COVID-19 [Texas Public Radio]

On when the pandemic started:

Initially, we didn't really feel the effects until they stopped all voluntary procedures. And since I'm on a medical surgical floor, we get mostly surgical patients. And so initially it was just kind of like a sudden stop of patients to care for. Not just because of the surgeries but because people were afraid to come in, I think.

Basically, a lot of nurses were getting put on call, because there just weren't enough patients to take care of.

That's a blessing in reality. The social distancing and everything has clearly been working, so that is a good thing overall. It just makes it a little bit difficult for some people with their healthcare jobs, even though you would think it would be an optimal opportunity to find plenty of work.

On some Houston hospitals' unwillingness to let nurses help out in New York:

I knew a couple of nurses that had wanted to go to New York. I guess I would have expected the hospitals to say, yes, you can unless we need you, (and) we would expect you to come back. I would have thought they would have maintained their job position, but there was no promise that if you were to leave to help out in a state that needed help that your job would be there when you got back.

Fort Worth Nurse Anesthetist On Treating COVID-19 In NYC: ‘Everyone Was Sick And Everyone Was Dying’ [KERA News]

On quitting her job:

My husband is a respiratory therapist, so we were both working at the start of this epidemic. But he is in the Army Reserves and about a month ago, he was called to treat COVID patients with the Army, so he had to deploy with less than 24 hours' notice. And so that left us with very few options really, because we did not have time to plan anything, we really didn't see it coming. My (son’s) daycare was fortunately still open but it doesn't cover a full nursing shift, which in this area is always at least 12 hours. When you take into account going and coming, it's usually 14 hours. So I could not find the coverage I needed in order to be able to work.

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