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The unexpected gratitude brought tears to her eyes, she said. But it’s true: Claire Pedulla is a hero, one of many people sacrificing themselves for others in the coronavirus pandemic.
After the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, it was the firemen running into the burning Twin Towers to help people to safety that inspired our admiration. Today, it’s the nurses and health care professionals who are running toward danger to keep us safe.
The Journal-Record in Oklahoma City featured Claire’s story. She works as a registered nurse at University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in an intensive care unit that accepts coronavirus cases.
Claire was a basketball player for Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, where she served in a life-changing mission trip to Saint Lucia. She continued her medical studies after Benedictine and became a nurse.
“Less than a year into her new career, she never thought she would be on the front lines of a global pandemic,” writes Joe Hight, a columnist at the Journal Record. “It’s changed her life.”
At work, through 12-hour shifts that end at 7 a.m., she has to wear “personal protection equipment” including gloves and a special mask. After work, she has to isolate herself.
“Not being with family is the hardest thing,” she says. That means she can’t see her eight brothers and sisters, her mother, Bernadette, or her father, Dr. Dominic Pedulla.
Her friend Juliana Martin said this is especially difficult for Claire.
“Every day she is making sacrifices that we cannot even begin to fathom, and all for our well-being,” Juliana said. “This family is insanely close; this isolation period is truly an act of love.”
As a Benedictine College graduate Claire is a model of how the college’s mission of community, faith and scholarship can transform tough times like these.
It is important to Claire to build community with the nurses who work beside her on the overnight shift. “I love my co-workers,” she told Hight. “We lean a lot on each other, especially because we can’t see anyone outside of work. We talk to each other about how we feel.”
She sees her work as a vocation and cherishes a quote from one of her professors that she shares on Facebook. “You are God’s earthly hands, eyes, ears and words. You are caring for his most vulnerable children. Show your servant heart for his work.”
She also sees her work on the virus as a learning opportunity. “It would be a bad thing if I wasn’t nervous,” she told Hight, “but I’m confident because of the tools I have and what I’ve learned. I always feel safe at work.”
Juliana speaks for fellow Ravens when she says, “Thank you for everything you’re doing Claire, and thank you to all the other healthcare workers out there.”