GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – Ever since she was a child, Meghan Barnes says she felt it in her heart that health care was the most suitable career path.
“My mom actually was an emergency nurse for about 20 years, and I got to see all of the trials and tribulations that she went through; the good and the bad times. So, I found it very rewarding to work in the emergency room,” Barnes said.
Six years into her professional career, Barnes is an emergency room registered nurse at the Morristown-Hamblen Healthcare System.
The Greeneville native makes the daily trek from her home in Kingsport to the Morristown-Hamblen Healthcare System.
She has traveled near and far to care for patients. These places include Panama City Beach, Salem, Virginia, Nashville and currently in Morristown.
“You get to go where the need is,” Barnes said.
Barnes recalls traveling to Nashville after the deadly tornado ripped through Middle Tennessee.
“A couple of my coworkers had lost their homes and it was just a crazy experience, very rewarding though. The community really stepped up and helped each other out,” Barnes said.
Little did she know she’d make the shift to being a healthcare hero, helping in the battle against COVID-19 for the next year.
“Basically, every hospital system was very understaffed and very overworked,” Barnes said. “I believe everybody was so afraid to come to the hospital. The census at our hospital had actually dropped drastically, but the patients that we were seeing were pretty much all COVID and were very, very ill.”
Morristown-Hamblen Healthcare System emergency room educator Travis Barner said, “Meghan is very passionate. She has some of the best empathy as a nurse. I’ve seen her cry with her patients, especially in times of loss.”
Barner said she never once hesitated to go to work and take care of COVID patients, no matter how gruesome the hospital floors looked and not knowing what the future held.
“Meghan is a great example of what it takes to be a great nurse in such a trying time, I think, for nurses,” Barner said.
Barnes said it was tough; she looks back and takes note of what she learned and overcame.
“I would say right now is the worst time for nursing. If you can make it through this time right now, it’s going to be very challenging, but it’s going to be very worth it,” Barnes said.