BY MICHAEL P. BUFFER

Now that she’s finished her final semester and will get a nursing degree from Luzerne County Community College, Rebecca Strausser is ready to join the front line as a registered nurse in the fight against COVID-19.

“I’m excited to be honest with you. I signed up for this for a reason,” Strausser said. “I have always found a calling with taking care of people, and COVID patients are no different than anyone else. They need our care.”

Strausser, 34, is from Scranton, and she will be a registered nurse at Commonwealth Health Regional Hospital of Scranton. She already works there as a nursing aide.

“I have already taken care of quite a few COVID patients as a nurses aide. It’s scary, yes, because of the unknown of all of it,” she said. “But I want to get out there. I want to be part of it. I want to help. I want to do my part.”

Luzerne County Community College is awarding 100 nursing degrees this month.

Maria Marianacci, 25, is another nursing graduate at the community college, and she will work as a registered nurse at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital.

“I currently work there as an aide, so it’s a transition,” said Marianacci, who’s from Wyoming.

She accepted a job as a registered nurse there at the beginning of the semester.

“I got accepted to a cardiac telemetry unit,” she said. “The cardiac telemetry unit at General has actually been converted into a COVID unit right now, so they are still ready for me to come.”

MARK MORAN / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Maria Marianacci, a nurse at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital hands a box of donuts to Michele Manganelli Tuesday morning during which officials from Luzerne County Community College brought coffee and donuts to nurses at the hospital that graduated from the college.

 

Marianacci said working in the COVID-19 unit is challenging.

“Yeah, every day it’s something different. It seems like this virus is evolving every day, so you really don’t know what you are walking into,” she said. “I work there now as an aide, and sometimes I am floated to the COVID unit. I mean dress codes are changing every day. Entrances are changing every day. It’s truly, minute by minute.”

Strausser lives with her husband and 14-year-old son and is extra cautious when she gets home from work.

“The soiled scrubs that we wore caring for COVID patients are left at the hospital, but first thing when I get home, I go right down to the washer and dryer,” she said. “All of my scrubs go into the washer and dryer, get washed immediately separately from everything else. I shower, first thing I shower. My shoes are left outside.”

In response to the pandemic, Luzerne County Community College closed facilities in mid-March, ended in-person instruction and finished the semester with online and remote instruction. The college is planning to show a virtual graduation ceremony online on May 28.

“They are going to put up pictures of us and stuff like that, just so that there is a little pomp and circumstance for us because we worked our butts off. Everybody did, especially with the different circumstances,” Strausser said.

Contact the writer: mbuffer@citizensvoice.com; 570-821-2073