Austin nurse one of 20 honored by Texas Nurses Association

Austin nurse Ana Drummond has spent the last year going from hospital to hospital helping to take care of COVID-19 patients. A decade ago, she was an accountant.

"I had 4 kids at the youngest was like one when I decided to go back to school," said Drummond. "My father-in-law passed away and it made me rethink life a little bit, and I decided I wanted to do something I felt was meaningful."

After graduating from nursing school in 2013, she got a job working with adult patients at Ascension Seton, before moving to Dell Children’s Medical Center to work as a pediatric nurse.

But when the pandemic hit, the number of patients at Dell Children’s decreased. Some nurses there were paid to stay home. Meanwhile, other hospitals were overwhelmed.

Drummond volunteered to go back to Ascension Seton and help with adult COVID-19 patients.

"I had all this nervous energy and I was able to put it to use," she said. "I felt helpful because I was helping COVID patients and helping the nurses with adults because they were overwhelmed and understaffed."


Drummond even helped write a letter that was shared with other nurses at Dell Children’s - encouraging them to make the same transition. Eventually, she helped cross-train them.

"We were able to go from four nurses to 24 nurses that volunteered after the letter was sent out," she said. "That was pretty exciting to feel like I had encouraged or inspired other nurses to go out there and do the same thing I was doing."

That was during the summer of 2020. When another peak hit in the winter, Drummond was back at Dell Children’s working with COVID-19 patients, while taking on extra shifts at Ascension Seton.  

She worked through extra hours and extra challenges - like being alongside patients in their last days when family wasn’t allowed in. "Nurses were their family," she said. "We were holding hands for dying patients."


She also pointed out other unique challenges brought about by the pandemic, for example, working with patients that didn’t speak English very well or at all.  

"Not only are we talking over the respirator and we’re talking over the fan, the interpreter is on this iPad and so they are having a hard time understanding us," she said. "You’re shouting, it’s really frustrating and it’s frustrating for the patient."

Drummond’s work during the pandemic led to her being recognized by the Texas Nurses Association during National Nurses Week, which coincides with the Year of the Nurse. She was one of 20 nurses chosen from around Texas

"There were so many nurses that really went above and beyond and showed up in really big ways during this time, so for me to be honored during that period of time is really special, and it kind of solidifies my feeling of belonging in the nursing community."

Drummond said the past year has been one of the most challenging times of her career but also came with some heartwarming memories.

She hopes that going forward, people don’t forget to care for all of those who are daily on the frontlines. "I think as we come out of this pandemic we’re going to see a need to hold up our nurses and figure out a way to help them heal and recover from this dark period of time," she said.

She also hopes that we can learn from the pandemic and that nurses can play a bigger role in influencing leadership in healthcare.

"If anything this pandemic has taught us that there is a lot of room for improvement," she said. "I think that nurses are in a very strategic place to give valuable input to leadership in healthcare...we know the barriers and we know the tools and the resources we need to make good patient care happen."