“This year was much crazier than the normal” becaue of COVID-19, Pazda said. “But we’ve all worked through it, and we’ve got a great unit. I’ve been (at Kennestone) 24 years, and I now know the reason why.”
RN Laurie Pazda, Wellstar Kennestone Hospital, works in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. Courtesy of Crew Atlanta
Many patients have been coming to doctors’ offices and hospitals much sicker than normal because they feared coming down with COVID-19. Compounding the anxiety was the fact that hospital patients couldn’t have visitors, even family members, Pazda said.
“Prior to COVID, we pretty much had visiting hours 24/7,” she said. “So going from one extreme to the other was very, very hard.”
The hospital was “very supportive” when nurses would plead the case for exceptions to the no-visitors rule, Pazda said.
A native of Chicago, Pazda has been a nurse for 37 years, always specializing in critical care. Her mother and oldest daughter both chose the same career path.
She received her nursing diploma from Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park, Ill., and her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Rush Presbyterian St. Luke’s Hospital in Chicago.
Pazda started her career in Chicago in 1984 and joined Wellstar after her family moved to Atlanta in 1996. She is married and has three children, ages 27, 26 and 24.
Pazda said she’s motivated by the important things, such as seeing a smile on a patient’s face or hearing a grateful “thank you.”
“It’s been an experience,” she said. “But I believe God’s in control of everything, and that is what keeps me going. For me, just being able to do what we’re supposed to be doing here on this earth, and then get a paycheck for it, is a bonus.”
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RN Laurie Pazda, Wellstar Kennestone Hospital. Courtesy of Crew Atlanta
Meet the other award winners:
Vicky Hogue, Wellstar Paulding Hospital. Winner of the Nurse Leadership Award, sponsored by Mercer
Rochanda Crawford, Grady Health System
Beth Dziczkowski, Northside Hospital Cherokee
Clayton Fowler, Wellstar Kennestone Hospital
Danielle Giaritelli, Emory Healthcare
Jody Leonard, Southern Regional Medical Center
Kathleen LePain, Piedmont Healthcare Athens
Tasneem Malik, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Laura Moss, Wellstar Spalding Regional Hospital
Laura Toops, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta