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Cry for help prompts retiree, school nurse to join coronavirus fight

Hospitals and health departments are reaching out to those with medical experience to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Hospitals and health districts asked for those with medical experience to help handle what is expected to be a growing number of coronavirus cases across the state.

A spokesperson for Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia said the hospital has been reaching out to recently retired doctors and nurses.

"If worse comes to worst in our communities, they will need us all to come back and do some work," said Thurston County Health Officer Dr. Diane Yu, who came out of retirement to head up the county's response to coronavirus.

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Joy Fulling, a school nurse in Olympia's L.P. Brown Elementary School, will start working with the Mason County Health Department.

“That’s what I do,” said Fulling. “It would be really hard to sit at home and watch my peers.”

She previously worked as a nurse responding to natural disasters and helping local health departments handle outbreaks.

“This is just different, because this is my home,” said Fulling.

Yu said in addition to those with medical and public health backgrounds, local health districts could also end up needing volunteers to answer phones and handle patient intake.

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For now, Yu said everyone can help by following the recommendations for social distancing.

“This virus needs us,” said Yu. “It needs us to pass it around. If we don’t pass it around, the virus is going to die."