Women's Eagles star nursing the sick in New Jersey

We highlight more members of the rugby family working tirelessly to help people during the COVID-19 pandemic, including Women's Eagles player Tess Feury.

USA international Tess Feury (pictured centre) is battling against coronavirus and her own understandable anxieties as a full-time nurse in New Jersey.

Working three 12-hour shifts a week, Feury serves the Paediatric Intensive Care unit as well as the Emergency Department in the fight against COVID-19. Right now, it’s all hands on deck, says the Rugby World Cup 2017 semi-finalist.

“Typically I am only directly assigned to two patients per shift since the children are often in critical condition,” said Feury. “However, with the recent COVID-19 pandemic, our workload has changed to help us better manage the number of patients we are seeing. Throughout the hospital, it is a team effort to aid in this pandemic. That includes helping out on whatever unit needs it most that shift.”

The hospital she works at in New Jersey has, along with New York, become the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic in the USA. Her own hospital treats thousands of cases in the area.

“I'm not going to lie, each day when I drive into work, I feel more anxious than I used to. I have no idea what I am going to walk into,” she said. “With the ever-changing protocols and new research coming out by the hour, the way I care for my patients is constantly evolving.”

On the front line

While the pandemic continues to evolve, with healthcare professionals having primary exposure to the scope and nature of the crisis, Feury finds herself inspired by the opportunity to support her country in a unique situation.

“Situations like this are why I wanted to become a nurse. I wanted to help the world when it needs me most and now I am truly getting that opportunity. I, along with millions of healthcare workers across the world, am on the front line of this pandemic and I’m honoured to help the country that has given me so much in its time of need.”

As Feury continues to put the long hours in at the hospital, the realities of remote training for the Women’s Eagles have become a new challenge in the mix. And still, despite the uncertainties associated with fighting the pandemic and resuming rugby, Feury is just as determined and optimistic in her devotion to both.

“With no organised practices or games, I am left to train on my own. I think these next few weeks are going to be a true test on my mental toughness. I need to stay diligent on my USA Rugby workouts and training during this difficult time and I know I’m up for the challenge with the support of USA Rugby and my teammates.

“Work-life-rugby balance has always been one of my strengths. When I’m passionate about something, I make sure I have the time to do it and do it right. Family, nursing and rugby are my main focus points for this year, and I am ready to give them my all.”

Backs against the wall

Other international players from around the world are among those working hard to support others during the pandemic.

Ireland's Claire McLaughlin is putting her skills as a qualified doctor to good use in the Accident and Emergency Department at Belfast’s Ulster Hospital.

“This week has just been mental – all the uncertainty takes its toll,” said the 28-year-old, who urged people to heed expert advice about controlling the spread of COVID-19.

"When our backs are against the wall you appreciate how much we all do for each other – just like on a rugby field.

“Everyone can have an impact and change the course of its path.”

France captain Gaëlle Hermet is another helping those in need.

The 23-year-old usually devotes some of her time to a nursing home in Cadours in conjunction with her rugby but is ramping up her efforts during the current crisis.

“We try to take care of everyone,” she said.

“There is, of course, a lot of precaution to protect our elders and the nursing staff – everyone is aware of what is happening, we are all talking about it.

“As we no longer have rugby, the goal is to help as much as possible with what is going on."


Photos: Mike Lee/KLC Fotos 

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