Tell us a little about yourself and your family Tracie.
I am a 46-year-old black woman who has many hats and plays many roles in life. I guess I first identify as a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a coworker… I’m just a person of society who tries to make things better for everyone.
What part of Tennessee do you call home? What makes that place special?
I am currently in Franklin, Tennessee. We chose Franklin due to the school system for our children. It’s a nice community. It’s quiet. It’s open. It’s very child-friendly, family-friendly.
Where is it that you work?
I work for the Vanderbilt Medical Center as a registered nurse. I work in high-risk OB (obstetrics) there, so I play several roles there as charge nurse, staff nurse, circulating nurse, triage nurse. Within the high-risk OB, our patients are laboring patients or they’re getting ready to have a baby or they’re coming in for some type of complication because of the pregnancy. We also have a lot of transfer patients that are coming out of different states. Usually, if they’re transferred up to us, they’re very high risk. If the mom has a cardiac history and then she’s become pregnant, it complicates the pregnancy. Or if they become pregnant and then they have some type of a fetal issue, like if the baby has a heart condition. If there is some type of anomaly like that, they’ll automatically be transferred to us.
How did you get into nursing?
I think it was probably in my late teens. My mother made me volunteer at a nursing home, I think that’s where it first started.
How has the COVID-19 outbreak impacted your job?
Oh, that has been very scary. Because as well as other patients that there are, OB patients are at such high-risk for contracting coronavirus or SARS, we’re having to take special precautions. We have to identify these patients who could possibly test positive, what we call a PUI, a possible COVID patient. So they have to be quarantined for a while until we get their tests back. And then when you’ve finished treating them for COVID, you have to still treat them for OB issues as well. So while we’re waiting on that test too, you have to manage those two big risk factors. Not that the other COVID patients aren’t just as high risk, but in OB, you’re thinking about two patients instead of just one patient.
Why is it more important than ever for you to continue your work?
I just like taking care of people, and I think everybody has to have their own advocate. And with the world of obstetrics, you’re not just taking care of one patient at a time, you’re taking care of two, and in that situation, it can change so fast if one thing goes wrong. And then there’s the patients’ families. Because you’ve got stricter visiting hours, they can only have one person with them. And sometimes their loved one that they need most can’t come with them. They might be sick, or they’re taking care of their other children, or they’re out of state or something like that. So they’re alone. But I think we have a really good staff. We try our best to take care of everyone.
What about your work makes you the most proud?
When people say, ‘thank you.’ People are just scared. So is the staff. And with so many other things going on in the world… it’s just hard. But when they say, ‘thank you,’ I just really appreciate that.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
When I come home I have to quarantine myself because I’ve had so many exposures. So just knowing that my own family is around and then just being able to just walk away from work and everything that’s going on is helpful.
That and then just picking up a book and just reading it because it puts you in just a whole different world. I can get through a book in two to three days. Once I find one that I want to read, I’m stuck. I like a mix of genres from autobiographies to love stories, to even the Hartford romance books, I’m just all over the place.
What advice would you give people during the pandemic?
My biggest thing would be to wear a mask, [practice] social distancing, and limit your exposures outside of your home. Just to encourage people just to stay safe, stay strong, just be careful of your surroundings and just know that everybody’s different in the world. And it wouldn’t be such a blessed place if everybody wasn’t different.
What do you look forward to doing the most when things return to normal?
I have to say just feeling safe, feeling like you can go out and just have a normal routine with life. Like not worry that your children can go out and be exposed to something or I don’t know, things just feel so unsafe.
Who do you think is most responsible for the person you are today?
I would definitely say, my mom. And then I’ll also say, my great-grandmother and my two grandmothers. I was raised by men too, but I had such a strong influence from the women in my life. Their lessons of hard work, determination, making your spot in the world, and just being a strong person- that’s what just brought me to this point.
Is there anyone else you look up to as heroes?
I would have to say probably my children too because they have persevered through a lot of things. They are resilient. Both of them are straight-A students. My daughter is in her second year of college. She got into the University of Kentucky Honors College. Her undergraduate is neuroscience, and she’s planning to go to medical school. She just has this all mapped out already and she’s barely 20-years-old.
My son, he’s just such a straight shooter. He’s got this wicked sense of humor. He’s got a lot of scholarships, a lot of offers at different schools. He chose MTSU to do business, but he’s also doing sports. He stayed an honor roll student and did everything that he was supposed to do and even more. I don’t know if I would’ve been able to do what he’s done. We’ve been very, very blessed.
We already consider you a hero, Tracie. But if you got to choose one superpower, what would it be?
It would probably be humility, because to know that everybody’s situation is different, and my situation is different. But just to be humble about life because it can be so precious. And you just don’t know, one day something could change drastically. Then I’d want to be able to give that power or share that power with someone else.
Thank you for all that you do and taking the time to talk with us today, Tracie. Stay safe and take care.
For sacrificing her time and her own safety to continue to care for the those most vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus, we’re proud to award Tracie with the Hardin’s Heroes title, certificate, and a donation of $500 to her chosen charity, the local NAACP Nashville Chapter.
The mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is to secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons. For more information, visit NAACPNashville.org.