CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – From the Lowcountry to New York to Washington, D.C. to Charlotte, North Carolina and now Columbia, South Carolina, April Gilliard is continuing to fight the pandemic on the front lines.  

The traveling emergency room nurse says she worries people think the pandemic is over. Now, she wants to explicitly remind the public that the pandemic is still ongoing and deadly.

Gilliard says she sees many unvaccinated patients in the hospital. She asks them if they will get vaccinated after they leave the hospital. Most people say they will, according to Gilliard. She says “most of them are regretting the fact they did not get vaccinated.”

While she says the vaccine does not prevent everyone from getting the virus, it does prevent most people from ending up in the hospital.

Gilliard says nurses like herself are continuing to work long hours and taking care of patient loads far larger than normal.

Typically emergency room nurses care for four patients per day, but Gilliard says most are currently caring for up to six.

It takes a toll on you mentally, physically, spiritually, all the above. This time around it’s a lot different because it’s almost like the community does not understand, we are still in this pandemic.  

April Gilliard, Emergency Room Nurse 

Gilliard says the emergency departments are also getting the brunt of disgruntled patients having to wait up to eight hours to be seen. Many of those patients are in the emergency room for chronic issues aside from COVID.

She is encouraging people to avoid the ER unless they are truly experiencing an emergency. Otherwise, she says, a primary care physician can usually help.

Gilliard says her current contract in Columbia ends Thursday; from there, she’ll either head to Arizona or to Texas.