By Guest Blogger Dottie Shepard, RN, BSN

Fear of the unknown, getting sick, and our families getting sick are a few of the fears that my coworkers and I are experiencing at this time during the pandemic of COVID-19. I am a Registered Nurse in the Orthopedic Clinic for Wake Forest Baptist Health (WFBH). I am considered an “essential” employee, so I continue to work with patients who come to the clinic.

When we do our COVID-19 prescreening phone call prior to appointments, some of our patients are rescheduling because they are scared. They are looking to the staff to provide them with reassurances that it is safe to come to the clinic. We make sure our patients understand we are taking extra precautions to protect them and our staff while at our office.

I am fortunate to work for a leadership team that shares information as it comes to them, even as it is changing daily. Dr Chris Ohl, an Infectious Disease physician at WFBH, used the analogy of COVID-19 and an offshore hurricane. He speaks of this offshore hurricane that is going to make landfall in North Carolina. He advises that we have had time to prepare and put instituted measures in place to help decrease the effects of COVID-19. This is why “social distancing” and “stay at home” are so important.

For a nurse, the Stay-at-Home order doesn’t mean anything because we are expected to go to work every day to provide care to others. There is still so much unknown about this virus, and as a nurse this is very difficult to handle. We are used to dealing with clear and concise guidelines, but now those guidelines are changing daily.

A month ago, I was asked if I was concerned about COVID-19 and my answer was, “No, healthy people will be fine. Wash your hands, cough and sneeze into your elbow, and stay home when you are sick.” Now my answer has changed to, “Yes, I am very frightened because we have seen what this virus can do to patients and medical centers.” The shortage of PPE (personal protective equipment) that medical centers are facing is alarming; if we can’t protect the medical staff who are taking care of the patients, the situation will become dire. Therefore, I urge everyone to follow the “Stay at Home” guidelines to protect our community.

Being a mom and a nurse, I am scared to think that I could bring home COVID-19 to my daughter. I am changing my clothes and washing my hands as soon as I walk in the door and keeping a distance from my daughter when she is at home.

A few positives that I have seen come out of this pandemic are people are helping each other: taking food to an elderly neighbor to keep her at home, sewing masks for clinical staff to wear at work, families having dinner together each night and spending quality time with one another. I am hopeful that we come out of the pandemic as a stronger community and remember what is important.

Operating room staff at WFBH


A few reminders about COVID-19:

Reported symptoms have ranged from mild to severe and may include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

if you have shortness of breath, first call your primary care provider. Then proceed to emergency room or location directed. I would advise avoiding the Emergency Dept unless absolutely necessary.

According to the CDC, symptoms may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure.

Currently testing is not recommended for those who are not seriously ill and do not need to be hospitalized unless they are a health care worker or a vulnerable person due to age with underling serious medical conditions. If you have a fever and cough, stay at home and you should self-isolate at home for 7 days and have at least 3 days of improving symptoms.

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Wash hands after getting home or touching door knobs, railings, grocery store carts, gas pumps, bathroom fixtures and other public surfaces.
  • Don’t touch your face, including your mouth, eyes or nose.
  • Use household cleaning sprays or wipes to clean “high-touch” surfaces at home, like kitchen counters, tabletops, toilets and phones.
  • Clean your cell phone regularly with a disinfecting wipe.

Visit for information from the NC Department of Health and Human Services. Text COVIDNC to 898-211 to get text updates.

Find more information on what to do if you are sick at


* Lead-in photo features some of the clinical staff in the Interventional Radiology dept at Wake Forest Baptist Health