Houston ICU nurse uses Astros to power through COVID pandemic

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The first American League Championship Series game was played in Houston Friday since 2019 after last year's American League Championship Series was played at an empty ballpark in San Diego.

Minute Maid Park was packed thanks to the frontline heroes helping the city turn the corner on COVID-19.

One reason Julie Hoff loves the Astros is she said she recognizes a great team when she sees one.

"You see their smiles. You see the love for the game," Hoff said "They love baseball."

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Julie is on a phenomenal team herself. As the director of critical care for HCA Houston Healthcare North Cypress, she's been on the frontlines fighting COVID in the ICU since early 2020. But, she told ABC13 it's never been worse than these last few months.

"When you lose patients, it's very hard," Hoff said while fighting back tears. "This time, in this wave, they've been younger, and that's been the hardest part."

Hoff, who grew up in Waller, fell in love with the Astros through her father's passion for the team. She's now a diehard fan herself.

"That's my outlet," she said. "They have gotten me through a lot of sadness. They've probably brought a lot of nurses through a lot of sadness."

She was in attendance for game one of the ALCS. It's her first postseason game since before the pandemic, and she said this team reminds her of her own team, which is also still fighting.

"They're a family just like the ICU family," Hoff said. "They love to take care of patients. That's all we want to do, all we need to do. Day by day, smile by smile."
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