GIFTED Spotlight: Taylor McCombs on COVID-19 Frontline Care

The coronavirus pandemic has placed nurses in the spotlight. Every day, thousands of clinicians go to work and fight heroically on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis.

Today’s GIFTED spotlight shines on Taylor McCombs, a GIFTED nurse currently working with COVID-19 patients on his very first travel assignment.

Read on to learn about Taylor’s experience on the front lines of COVID-19.

A Desire to Help Those in Need

Taylor McCombs is from Madison, Mississippi, and has been a nurse for 10 years. He spoke to us from Summit, New Jersey, just two weeks after arriving for his first travel assignment.

Regarding his experience, Taylor says, “I’ve done a little bit of everything, but my specialty is Cardiovascular and Cardiothoracic Nursing.”

When we asked Taylor why he chose to take his first assignment during a pandemic, his response hinted that he has always been drawn to a career focused on service and helping those in need.

“I’ve always wanted to help people when they need it the most,” said Taylor. “I’ve contemplated joining the military or something, but never quite pulled the trigger.”

Taylor saw the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to fulfill his long-term aspiration to help those in crisis.

“I figured this would be a way to give back and serve the community – not only to help sick patients, but also to provide relief for the nurses who feel beaten down,” he said.

A Speedy Arrival

Once he decided to become a travel nurse, Taylor turned to GIFTED. After exploring options for his travel destination and taking a few interviews, Taylor happily accepted a contract in Summit, New Jersey – with one interesting detail.

Because of the strain that high numbers of COVID-19 patients had placed on this particular facility, Taylor was asked to begin his assignment just a few days after he accepted the offer.

“I was offered a position on a Thursday, and I was on a plane that Saturday,” Taylor said with a laugh.

The Front Lines

Although Taylor’s specializes in cardiovascular nursing, he was assigned to a COVID-19 unit.

Taylor’s stories of his daily work on the front lines of coronavirus are similar to others being told around the nation.

“It’s very busy here,” he said. “These patients are on multiple drips. They’re super sick. They’re requiring a lot of care.”

Like many other hospitals, Taylor’s facility has been forced to create solutions for the high volume of patients. Before the COVID-19 crisis, the facility focused primarily on neuroscience. Its ICU has been forced to adapt to exclusively care for COVID-19 patients.

“The hospital normally has 40 ICU beds,” Taylor explained. “When I arrived, we had 92 ICU patients. We’re having to put 2 patients in every ICU room.”

Clinical Environment

Unfortunately, like most facilities with a high number of critical COVID-19 patients, Taylor has observed his fair share of tragic outcomes.

Taylor explains that on the week of his arrival, there were 80 patients on ventilators. In his second week, that number had decreased almost 50 percent.

At first glance, this may seem like progress. However, as Taylor explained, a quick reduction in the number of patients on ventilators isn’t always cause for celebration.

“As of yesterday, we only had 47 people on ventilators,” Taylor said. “But that’s not necessarily good, because they’re passing away.”

Bonding Over Tragedy

When asked how he is handling the stress of providing frontline care for COVID-19 patients, Taylor paused thoughtfully before responding:

“Normally I try to separate myself from the emotional aspect of caring for patients. But I can see why a lot of nurses get PTSD or depression, because these patients require a lot of care. And as a nurse, when you commit yourself to caring for a patient, and then they die – things can start to feel pointless.”

Although sad stories from the front lines of COVID-19 are common, tragedy often brings people together.

When describing the hospital’s environment and level of morale, Taylor told stories of solidarity, gratitude, and strong bonds between coworkers.

On his first day, Taylor was welcomed by his exhausted nursing teammates with open arms.

“When I got to orientation, every nurse was super thankful, super grateful that we were there,” he said. “The director of the ICU got pretty emotional – she didn’t cry, but she was on the verge of tears – she was so thankful that we were there to help.”

Ultimately, Taylor humbly expressed that he and his fellow nurses were committed to doing whatever it takes to keep people healthy, despite being exhausted.

“I don’t look at myself as someone special that’s doing some extraordinary job,” he said. “I’m just going to work. We signed up to help people when they need it. You stick together, you help each other out however you can, and you do the best you can for every patient.”

“And nursing is a 24-hour job,” he added. “So luckily, you have someone to relieve you when your day is over, and the next day you just come back and do the same thing.”

The Ideal Nurse

Every time we interview a nurse, we ask them to describe the qualities of the “ideal nurse.”

Throughout our conversation, Taylor came across as a hardworking, duty-bound individual who finds true value in an honest day’s work. Looking only at his words, one might characterize his relationship to nursing as nothing more than practical or functional.

However, reading between the lines, it becomes immediately clear that Taylor is an incredibly compassionate, dedicated nurse.

In his own mind, Taylor may simply be someone who is “just going to work” each day. To us, this humble description is an encouraging testament to Taylor’s no-nonsense approach to nursing; it reflects the level of selflessness and focus required to provide daily care for individuals in the most critical moments of their lives.

We asked Taylor to describe the qualities of the “ideal nurse.” His answer was thoughtful and methodical, as we expected:

“For me, the ideal nurse is detail-oriented and compassionate. They stick to their own personal morals and values, as well as the principles set by the facility they’re working at. It mostly comes down to the individual – if you hold yourself to high moral standards, it will impact the way that you do your job.”

Travel to Help Those in Need with GIFTED Healthcare

GIFTED is honored to serve and support RNs like Taylor McCombs. We truly believe that nurses are heroes, and we’re grateful for the reliable care they provide to people in need every day.

Are you interested in taking a travel nursing adventure? GIFTED is here to help.

Apply now to join the GIFTED family, or learn more about the wide range of options that are available to you!

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