Clinic nurses step in to care for COVID patients in Houston's busiest hospitals

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- During the height of the COVID-19 outbreak, LBJ and Ben Taub were two of the hospitals that were very busy.

The hospitals are part of the Harris Health System. With some staff sick and others quarantined, staffing was a concern but they had a surge plan in place.

Harris Health System transferred some 200 nurses from area clinics to LBJ or Ben Taub to ensure the hospitals were staffed.

One of those nurses was LaPorsha Evans, a mother of three.

"I have a 10-year-old daughter, a four-year-old daughter and a one-year-old son," said LaPorsha Evans, a licensed vocational nurse in Harris Health System.

Evans works at the Northwest Health Center for the Harris Health System. She loves being a nurse and being a mom.

As COVID-19 hit, she was called to help. She went to work at Ben Taub. She said at first she was nervous for herself and her family.

"Originally, I thought, I don't know, I don't know if I want to get sick but then I started realizing, you know, I chose nursing for a reason and this will be a good experience for me to be able to help, help the team out especially, just making sure that these patients have the care that they need," said Evans.

Within a few days of working at the hospital she loved it and looked forward to what every day would bring.

"You're doing 12 hour shifts, so you have to make sure you understand what each and every patient needs," said Evans.

LaPorsha was one of 200 nurses in the system that stepped in to help. Before the nurses from the clinics went to the hospitals, they got what she called, a refresher.

"We actually partnered with Ben Taub and LBJ to conduct a skills training lab orientation, to make sure that, that was part of our surge plans and the nurses were equipped with all the tools they needed to surge," said Bridgette Estes, director of nursing and ambulatory care services for Harris Heath System.

Something that inspired her to keep going back was knowing what the nurses meant to the patients.

"A lot of these patients can't have visitors. So it was very important to make them feel relieved and at ease during their care," said Evans.

Recovered COVID-19 or quarantined staff have been able to return to work. Plus, Harris Health has had an influx in contract workers, that's allowed some of the clinic staff that surged, like LaPorsha to return to their clinics but if she's needed again she's ready to go.

This week she returned to the clinic.

"I do look forward to caring for these patients here as well but I know that at any given time, if they need us again. I'll do it all over again," said Evans.

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