Honoring Our Frontline Heroes: Tayler and Mike Kooienga

Tayler Kooienga is a healthcare worker who normally works in an outpatient endoscopy center in Grand Rapids. When that center was put on temporary closure, Tayler called Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Hospital to offer her assistance. It could have been easier or safer to remain home, but Tayler chose to go to the frontlines. She says, “I felt I had to do what I could to help.” It is with this giving, selfless heart that she serves her patients.

During this pandemic, she has worked with men and women fighting against Covid-19. Because she is not ICU certified, she cares for patients once they are off of the ventilator and making progress towards recovery and discharge.

Like Tayler, her husband, Mike, is also in the medical field. Normally, he works in a procedural area of the hospital but has been redeployed to the ICU to assist with the growing volume of patients. While the ICU stays busy, the rest of the hospital seems eerily empty. Saint Mary’s has canceled all elective procedures and surgeries that normally keep these units lively and full. Visitor restrictions also play a big role in the quietness.

While the group of patients have increased in West Michigan, Grand Rapids still hasn’t seen the vast amount of coronavirus cases like that of East Michigan. However, Tayler says that “there is a constant sense of uneasiness about when it will become as bad in this part of Michigan as they are warning us it will.”

One of biggest challenges that Tayler has seen thus far is the emotional taxation that isolation plays in the lives of her patients due to visitor restrictions. Tayler says, “As a nurse, you are one of the only in-person interactions these patients have during their stay. They can call or talk to their loved ones over video chat, but it’s just not the same as having them by your side during a difficult time. I cannot imagine how hard that must be.”

We are continually grateful for the sacrifices that Tayler, Mike, and all other healthcare workers are making to save lives. You are our heroes! We pray for protection and health to surround you as you treat and serve those in the hospital.

In closing, Tayler wanted to say this, “I would like to acknowledge and thank all the people who are putting their lives at risk on a daily basis because what they do is essential and important. We appreciate all your hard work!”
Well said, Tayler. We couldn’t agree more.

~Written By Catie Cordero (A Diverse Global Article)

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