Spring has sprung outside of St. Peter’s Hospital, but inside, Natasha Delehanty hasn’t had time to notice.

“I can say my family probably hasn’t seen me too much in the last six weeks,” she smiled and said.

Navigating days in the COVID-19 wing can be long and tiring. Each comes with its own surprises.

“We do say it’s indescribable every day,” Delehanty said. “It’s nothing like we were ever prepared for in nursing.”

That says a lot, since Delehanty’s journey with St. Peter’s began a while ago. She’s worked there for 25 years. She’s the manager of St. Peter Hospital’s COVID-19 wing. So far, her youngest COVID patient has been 22 years old; her oldest, in their 90s.

“It’s emotional. A lot of emotion tied to all of this,” she said.

That’s why signs of support line the walls inside St. Peter’s. It’s a literal road map through the hospital, telling nurses to keep going.

“There’s sadness in the day, quite a bit of sadness,” Delehanty said. “There’s fear in the day, but there’s also a lot of exciting times in the day, where we get to see patients go home, and we’re celebrating and clapping.”

(Image courtesy / Natasha Delehanty)

That’s what keeps her going. Delehanty knew from a young age that she wanted to be a nurse. And while her family might not see a lot of her, her patients definitely do.

“Being able to hold their hands. Just being present with them,” she said. “Being able to see their victories. Seeing them leave from the hospital.”

Hospital staff has made progress, but Delehanty expects a COVID unit will be needed for some time.

“I would just say if you see a nurse, if you see a PCT … hug them, care for them,” she said, fighting tears. “It’s been a long journey.”

But would she ever change her life’s direction or encourage someone to take a different path? Not in a heartbeat.

“Do it. Go into nursing,” she said. “It’s the best thing I ever did in my life.”