Community Heroes: Next generation of healthcare workers prepare for COVID-19


BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) A few pre-nursing students at Northeast State Community College are pursuing their passion for primary care.

They do not know what lies ahead amid the pandemic, but they do know one thing: they are ready to be on the frontlines.

Meet Daniel Hunt and Maria Diaz who are community heroes in the making.

These are the next generation of healthcare workers taking on challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I can remember when I was a little girl, wanting to be a labor and delivery nurse. Pregnancy, labor and delivery has always been an interest of mine,” pre-nursing student Maria Diaz said.

Daniel Hunt, a pre-nursing student, told Pheben Kassahun, “A lot of times now, because of insurance demands and fast-paced and I want to be invovled in that and try to make connections with patients to see them through.”

These two are just two of Doctor Brent Lockhart’s anatomy students at Northeast State Community College, in Blountville.

“I’d say to the local colleges and the univerities, if you’re looking to recruit a group students, these are the ones that are going to be successful. These are the ones that you should be begging to get into your programs of interest because these are the ones who want the information, they want to be as professional as they possibly can and these are the ones who are going to succeed,” Dr. Brent Lockhart said.

The students stepped into a different era this spring going from in-class to online learning.

Diaz said, “It’s so different but the instructors and students have all managed to adjust. Lots of late night studying now.”

COVID-19 made them even more eager to serve those who are immune compromised.

“I’m doing school for myself, and so I have to make myself stay up and study, but it’s going to make me a better nurse. I owe it to my future patients to know this information because it could save a life,” Diaz told Kassahun.

Hunt said, “WIth the evergrowing prevelance of COVID, you don’t know what you’re walking into when you walk into a house.

On top of being a student, Hunt is already on the frontlines of COVID-19 as a ground paramedic for Washington cCounty-Johnson City EMA.

“Your little old lady that slipped and fell, isn’t any longer a ‘slip and fall’. It’s a COVID patient that slipped and fell, whether she has it or not because we don’t know,” Hunt said.

No matter what this group has the tenacity that will take them far in the healthcare world.

“They’re doing it for themselves and for their own educations but also they want to protect those in the community too by being the best that they possibly can in each of their different professions,” Dr. Lockhart said.

If you know someone who makes our community a better place to live, we want to hear from you! Nominate them to be an ABC Tri-Cities Community Hero! Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to nominate them.

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