Our Stories

Frontline Hero: Christen Evans, RN

Christen Evans in front of Heroes Work Here chalk mural

As an ICU nurse at Riverside Doctors’ Hospital in Williamsburg, Christen Evans does her job best when she gets to know her patients, often sitting with them and learning their life stories. At the beginning of each 7 p.m.to 7 a.m. shift, she asks patients their goal for the night. Some patients simply want a restful night. Others have blood pressure that is too low. And if a patient is on the ventilator, they need a sign-off on critical communication.

“If you get to know your patients, you can take better care of them,” she said.

Like many others, Christen knew early-on that she wanted to become a nurse. In high school, her paternal grandparents became ill and passed away. She noticed how the nurses took care of them and it hit her.

“That’s what I want to do,” she remembers saying. After graduating high school, she spent a year taking prerequisite courses before enrolling in nursing school. Then in 2018, she joined Riverside and went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree in nursing, all while working full-time. When she first became a nurse, it was normal to have three patients, but for the past year, “normal” has been six or seven. From full time at 36 hours a week, she now sometimes works 50 hours a week, depending on staffing.

“It was fine until COVID hit,” she said. “And then it got a lot more busy.”Just a few weeks ago, Christen was working her usual night shift when a patient came in who was in his 50s. They thought it was a mild case, but that night, his health took a turn for the worse. Two days later, the patient passed away. Since younger patients have come in who were much more sick and lived, this took the staff by surprise.

During a visit, the family had mentioned that the patient loved a certain song. When Christen and her team realized he wasn’t going to recover, they played the song. In his final moments, the patient was listening to “Lean on Me” as Christen, the doctor, and another nurse held his hand.

Christen said she doesn’t think she’ll ever be fine when a patient passes away, but some hit harder than others. Following this patient’s passing, she took a few days off. At dinner one night soon after, the mention of the word COVID upset her to the point of crying. On the drive home, she listened to worship music and sang along to calm her.

Since COVID struck, Christen said she takes her family a lot more seriously, all of whom live in the same town, and her sister just five doors down. She’s also become more intentional about making sure she connects more with the people who mean a lot to her.

“You never know when something may happen,” she said. “Be intentional about spending time with people.

In October, Christen contracted the virus herself, and quarantined away from her older parents and youngnephew, who she lived with before purchasing a home in December. Since having COVID, she has been able to donate her plasma to the American Red Cross to help save patients who are critically ill. She’s seen patients respond well to it, especially when it’s given early. At Riverside, if a patient is starting to look sick, they’ll order convalescent plasma, which typically takes less than a week to arrive. Some turn a corner, some get a little better, and some are just too far gone. Though she advocates for the vaccine, she cannot continue to donate plasma once she receives it, so she’s holding off for now.

Post-COVID, Christen said she’s looking forward to traveling and not having to worry about having more than 20 people at dinner. To help slow the spreadover the past year, most of her social interactions have been through FaceTime and small dinners. For her sister’s second pregnancy, they are planning to do a drive-by baby shower, quite unlike the big, fun one they did for her first child. Due to her ownexperience and her work, she recognizes that anyone can contract the virus, and it really doesn’t matter if they’re young or old. With everyone working together, we can slow the spread.

“I really hope it slows down with the vaccine,” she added. “It’s comforting to see that numbers are going down at this hospital. I’m really hoping to turn a corner with this disease because it’s been rough.”

One thing Christen doesn’t miss?The grocery store. She’s grateful for pickup service and the essential workers who make it happen.

Related Services

Related Articles

View All Posts
Our Stories

First Documented COVID-19 Case at Riverside Doctors Hospital Williamsburg

Learn More Three members of the COVID-19 team
Our Stories

Frontline Hero: Michelle Shepeluk

Learn More Headshots of Michelle Shepeluk, at home and in COVID-19 gear
Our Stories

Frontline Hero: Regina Prendergast, ER Nurse

Learn More Regina Prendergast, ER Nurse in COVID gear