UP Nurse’s Rally Cry | University of Portland

UP Nurse’s Rally Cry

Facebook screenshot of female nurse in scrubs with caption "I've had plenty of time to be scared. Now it's time to do what I was made to do."At a time when inspiration is needed more than ever, we have this Facebook post from Erika (Nest) Cadres ’02, who finds herself on the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic as an intensive care unit (ICU) nurse at South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, MA. She’s been there for the past five years and previously served as an RN in various ICUs at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA, as staff nurse and travel nurse—a position created to address the nursing shortage by sending nursing grads around the country to fill positions on an as-needed basis.

A Portland native, Erika was assigned as a travel nurse to Boston 10 years ago. “Within two weeks of being in Boston I fell in love with the city and knew I wanted to stay here,” she says now. Next she fell in love with Ryan Cadres and the rest, as they say, is history. Husband Ryan teaches high school, and they have two children: Owen, 6, and Chloe, 4.

Erika’s rallying cry has bolstered spirits of friends and colleagues, but she does her best to deflect praise. “When I was at UP, I was an RA, so I think it was just kind of like the RA in me trying to gather people together and support each other.”

Behind the brave face Erika acknowledges the challenges faced by health care workers at this time. “I think we’re all on edge because of the lack of personal protective gear and having to reuse one-time-use equipment—we’re making it stretch for a week. And seeing the numbers of health care workers getting sick is also a little nerve wracking.”

Erika has her hands full raising two young children too. “At home the news is always on because of the way it impacts my work, so my kids always hear the word ‘coronavirus’ and they sometimes make a game of it, like ‘Oh, you’ve got the coronavirus, no, you’ve got the coronavirus,’ so for them it’s a light-hearted way to cope. This could be potentially scarring for them at some point, so we try to keep things as normal as possible.”

Asked if she has any parting words for her UP family, Erika keeps it short and sweet: “I just hope everyone stays safe during this time!”