Kimberly Harding-Dudding Unsung Hero
Kimberly Harding-Dudding is a registered nurse for Glenwood Park Skilled Nursing & Assisted Living Center in Princeton, and her work during the pandemic has earned her recognition as an Unsung Hero by the West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS).
Kimberly graduated in May 2020 with her nursing degree from Jefferson College of Health Sciences in Roanoke, VA. She had previously earned a biology degree from Bluefield State College, which she attended after graduating from Princeton Senior High School in 2009.
As a senior in high school, Kimberly was referred to DRS. She has asthma and insulin-dependent diabetes and was looking for help to prepare for her future employment.
DRS provided Kimberly with college financial assistance and other support to help her reach her vocational goals.
Kimberly worked as an oncology nurse and in the emergency room and the critical care unit at Princeton Community Hospital (PCH) during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During her time at PCH, Kimberly actively treated COVID patients and from that experience, she determined that it was the scariest disease she had seen, and she was used to treating cancer patients.
On October 1, 2020, Kimberly moved to her position as unit manager for Glenwood Park, where she oversees day-to-day patient care, as well as supervises the licensed practical nurses and the certified nursing assistants.
One of her primary functions during the pandemic has been to keep COVID out of their facility. Kimberly's responsibilities included ensuring that staff were wearing the required safety equipment to protect patients and each other.
Glenwood Park created what they called the Safe Harbor Unit, which was an area for patients needing nursing home or rehabilitation placement to quarantine for 14 days to get a negative COVID test result. Staff working in this area were kept separate from the other areas of the nursing facility.
One of the most difficult parts of her job, though, was seeing the patients decline from the isolation and sadness created by the pandemic. For the longest time, the facility was closed to the outside world, and the residents' only interaction with family and loved ones was through glass windows. Family members frequently became angry and upset with staff, but Kimberly understood their frustration. She described the whole situation as "heartbreaking."
DRS Rehabilitation Counselor Russell Hazelwood explained that Kimberly was nominated for the Unsung Heroes recognition because of her hard work and for her empathy and compassion toward those she's helping.
The pandemic has created so much additional stress. Kimberly spent a lot of time worrying and taking precautions to protect herself from exposure because she knew her patients were in the highest risk category, and she wanted to do everything she possibly could to keep them safe.
Kimberly admits that she never anticipated anything like COVID when she chose to enter the nursing field. She compares the pandemic to a war zone, only healthcare workers have been battling something they can't even see. But ultimately, Kimberly believes she's doing what she was put on earth to do, and that is to take care of people.