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She's been treating COVID-19 patients since March. She can't do it anymore.

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Mercy Hospital in Muskegon has been one of the hospitals hardest hit by the flood of coronavirus patients this fall. Molly Nixon has been a nurse at the hospital since 2017. She’s been treating people with the coronavirus since this spring.

“It’s scary and it’s frustrating and every day is a battle,” she says. “And lately there are more losses than wins.”

Muskegon County lost 95 people to COVID in the month of November alone – more than it had in the entire pandemic up to that point. The situation at Nixon’s hospital has slowly improved in the past few weeks. But she says people are still dying. And she says she’s at her limit. This Saturday will be her last day on the job.

Click above to hear her story. A transcript is below:

"We can't help anyone if we're not here."

Credit courtesy of Molly Nixon
Molly Nixon has been a nurse at Mercy Health in Muskegon for three years. After treating COVID-19 patients since March, her last day will be this Saturday.

The night before I have to work my stomach's always in a knot. I can't sleep. I through the pandemic have upped my anti-depressant to the maximum dose, and it's not enough anymore.

I'm just, I don't know, you know, every one of those people that died was important to someone. And I talked to their families and I get to know them. And it's just - it's too much.

It as, well, last Saturday - not last Saturday as in this past weekend, but the one before that - I went into work. And I was just sitting at the nurse's station and we were discussing our plan for the day. And I just couldn't stop crying. Not sobbing, but I mean, like just quiet tears.

The patients I had met that morning, I knew they weren't going to make it. And there was nothing I could do about that. And I just decided I couldn't be the one to talk to one more family and tell them ‘Your loved one is not going to make it. And I'm so sorry, but there's nothing else we can do.’

It was just too much. So I put in my two weeks.

And I do feel bad that I am leaving my team, that I'm leaving my patients in a community that I've grown to love. But I need to choose me.

I can't be the nurse I want to be. I can't be functional. And so it - it's time. I need to go be a nurse in a field that I feel like I can make a difference - that I feel like some days I'm going to get the win.

Doesn't have to be all the time. Just sometimes.

Because nursing used to fill my cup, it used to be my joy. And it's not now.

If there are other health care professionals out there that are struggling, first of all, I want to say very proudly that I do take medication for depression and have no shame in my game. Life’s tough. And sometimes if you've got a chemical imbalance, it makes it tougher. So I would encourage them to take care of their mental health.

Talk to someone if you need to.

Recognize your own limits.

Because we can't help anybody if we're not here.

Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Public’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Public since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.
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