This is Part 2 of our 3 part series showcasing students working on the frontline with Covid patients. This is David Pham's Story:
Battling the coronavirus is tough enough, but it's even more difficult if you're also in treatment for drug and/or alcohol abuse.
Thankfully there are dedicated nurses such as Concorde Career College graduate David Pham to help patients through severe physical and mental health challenges during a pandemic.
"A lot of these people are homeless, and don't have anybody who really cares about them like that," David said. "I want to be there for them, and show them love, care and comfort."
Medical Assistant to Nurse
David started his post-high school education at a community college, but wasn't sure what he wanted to do. "I was trying to figure myself out," he said.
He thought pursuing a nursing degree was too expensive, so he decided to attend Concorde-Garden Grove to become a medical assistant. He graduated in 2017 and found a job at a primary care physician's office.
He was responsible for a variety of tasks - taking vitals, providing vaccines, helping to prep for surgery and setting up EKG tests - but wanted more responsibility for, and interaction with, patients.
"I fell in love with the field, but was limited in a medical assistant position," he said.
David went back to school full-time at Concorde and kept working at his MA position one day a week. He graduated from the Vocational Nursing program in November 2019 and received his VN license in April 2020, as the pandemic spread across the nation.
Providing One-on-One Care
David quickly found a position at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility and appreciated the opportunity to work with patients. During his daily work, he monitors patients, provides medications to them and builds a rapport with them and their families.
Many of the patients he treats are trying to overcome an addiction to hard drugs, but they also have other physical and mental health issues. The facility Covid tests patients as they come in, isolates them until the test results are in and quarantines them if they test positive.
When treating these patients he wears personal protective equipment (PPE) if he's in the room, but he often communicates from the doorway. He usually checks in with patients every half-hour, but does 15-minute rounds with ones who have coronavirus and makes sure all of their needs are met.
"I try to be there for them as much as possible. I tell them we'll get through this together, and I'm not going to leave you hanging," David said. "Whatever you need let me know - you don't have to get out of your room."
David is comfortable and confident in his job, but the thought of testing positive for the coronavirus and bringing it home to his loved ones has been a constant concern.
"It's a very scary situation when I think about my family and people I surround myself with," he said.
He has even more responsibility now, working as a nurse for two rehabilitation facilities and also as a per diem hospice nurse. He loves helping people get through difficult times and often gets thanks from patients' family members.
"It's the best feeling in the world for me," he said.