MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – “The pandemic has been probably the most challenging thing I have ever faced in my career.”

Meet Cara Hawkins.

She’s been a nurse for 16 years, spending all of those years at WVU Medicine J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital and in hospital leadership for half of that time.

Cara Hawkins, Medical ICU nurse manager

She’s currently the Medical ICU nurse manager, but when COVID-19 came 18 months ago, she and her team had to face the unknown.

“We were very scared,” said Hawkins. “I remember the first day we had a patient in this unit, and I stayed over a shift and I said ‘our first patient, our first COVID patient has arrived’, and there was tears in the breakroom, and ‘I’m scared, and I don’t want to do this’, and I was like ‘I understand, we’re going to get through this together.'”

Hawkins talks with colleague in the Medical ICU

But with a strong leader, comes a strong team. Hawkins credits her entire team for the work of taking care of patients, as well as doing the little things.

“A nurse buying a patient a coffee and the patient saying ‘that’s probably the last cup of coffee I’ll ever have’, and that being the last cup of coffee, and family members remembering that,” said Hawkins.

A sign hangs in the Medical ICU inside of J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital for airborne precautions

Something Hawkins added was just how strong her team is with the circumstances they’re facing.

“I probably work with some of the most resilient people I’ve ever met,” said Hawkins. “They come to work every day and they pick up time. And, I don’t know how they do it, because they’ve done it for a year and a half, but they do.”

For their work taking care of some of the sickest patients in the state of West Virginia, Cara Hawkins and her team at Ruby Memorial Hospital are our Healthcare Heroes.