WESTON, W.Va. – Seeing his patients make positive changes to their lives is what it is all about for psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner Issaiah Wallace.

“In this line of work, a lot of people have very hard lives, a lot of systemic failures and we usually see them at the precipice of that. It’s very sad, but it’s also very rewarding when we get to see them change their life. They come in very sick and they leave healthy. That’s what I like,” Wallace said.

Wallace, who works at William R. Sharpe Jr. Hospital in Weston, says seeing friends pass away from the affects of the opioid epidemic lead him to a life of service. That initial motivation is never far from his mind. “Every now and then there’s certain patients I see friends of mine’s face in,” Wallace said.

The challenges the job brings also keep Wallace coming back.

“I like the puzzle. I like knowing that I have to sit and talk to you to know what’s going on, to get inside your head enough to see it from your perspective. You get an aerial view of the whole person. I love that,” Wallace said.

The current coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated the need for mental health care, Wallace belives.

“Ironically, a lot of the interventions that we’re doing in public health are almost, the interventions themselves are almost symptoms of depression. So, isolation, staying in your house. All the, all these things are pretty detrimental to mental health. And, I think it’s important to remember that social distancing doesn’t necessarily mean that we can’t interact with people. Right now, they’ve seen an uptick in things like depression, and the data’s not in yet, but I think this is going to be a big learning opportunity,” said Wallace.

If you’d like to nominate someone to be honored as a Healthcare Hero, click here.