NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Inside the walls at Trident Medical Center, hospital staff members have been working tirelessly for nearly two years to care for COVID-19 patients. Medical professionals have been labeled heroes for being on the frontlines of the pandemic. But, the heroes at Trident go further than just the nurses and doctors administering care.

Sharon Drayton is a patient advocate and Environmental Services Leader at Trident. She, too, gears up in full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) while coming into contact with COVID-19 patients daily.

Drayton’s job is to perform housekeeping duties including cleaning and sanitizing rooms, fulfilling patient requests for basic needs such as tissues or paper towels, as well as being a bright light and a friend to patients. That’s her favorite part.

“The patients need us here,” explained Drayton. “I get to go in and meet people every single day. I meet someone new every day and I can give them words of encouragement and make them feel better.”

Although it took some adjusting to the PPE, entering rooms with COVID-positive patients, and experiencing the trials and the tribulations of hospital staff during the pandemic, Drayton says now it’s normal and she doesn’t carry fear when visiting patients.

“Now we know what we have to do to take care of patients.”

Throughout the pandemic, hospitals have had to alter visitation rules to the extent that many Americans had to fight their battle with COVID-19 alone. Some lost that battle without family and friends by their side. Drayton says becoming a stand-in family member for patients is rewarding, yet can be heartbreaking.

Around 2,200 COVID-19 patients have come in the doors at Trident Medical Center, but not all of them were able to walk out.

“The hardest part is going in and talking to a patient and when I go back and they’re not there. That’s the hardest part,” said Drayton.

Still, Drayton and her team members put one foot in front of the other because there will always be another patient in need of a smiling face.

“I think of it this way. What if I had COVID? I would want someone to come in and care about me.”