CIU alum holds the hand of dying Covid patient

CIU alumnus Joey Ketcherside is a nurse who ministers to patients suffering from Covid-19.
June 02, 2020

By Bob Holmes

Joey Ketcherside was there to hold the hand of a man dying of Covid-19. He was the only one who could offer the touch.  

Ketcherside, a 2004 CIU alumnus, is a nurse in the Medical Intensive Care Unit of Prisma Health Richland Hospital in Columbia. Because of the contagious nature of the coronavirus, the family could not be at the bedside of their dying loved one. Instead they could only look through a door window into the ICU.

But Ketcherside, who says he often prays that he will be a healing vessel for his ICU patients, tried to offer hope and reassurance to the family members before they left.

“When (the patient) decompensated further, I was able to go in and hold his hand, and pray over him as he died,” Ketcherside said.

After doctors informed the family of the death, Ketcherside gave them a phone call.   

“I let them know that he was not alone, but that I was there, and I got to tell him how much they cared for him.

“It was kind of a special moment. At a time when it’s all chaos, and everyone is fearful, and not certain of what’s going to happen next, there was a glimpse of ‘Hey my dad didn’t die alone, someone was there with him.’”

Ketcherside graduated from CIU with a bachelor’s degree in General Studies and worked as a carpenter before God led him to consider a nursing career. While he was in nursing school at Midlands Technical College in Columbia, he found himself at the bedside of a friend who was dying.

“It was clear to me in those times that I had a calling,” Ketcherside said. “I always wanted to be helpful and take care of people in some regard. It feels like an extension of my faith when I get to go to work and help and administer healing to people.”

Even though Ketcherside says he is always fully supplied with Personal Protection Equipment in the ICU, the only other place he has been lately besides the hospital, is his home because he does not want to risk spreading the virus. His wife does all the shopping and with school buildings closed, their three children, sons ages 12 and 10, and a 7-year-old daughter, have had to continue their education online.

He says he helps his children through their own grieving process as they miss their classmates and hugs from someone other than dad and mom.

“Our daughter at one point said, ‘I can’t wait to be around my friends again. I like y’all but your hugs are getting boring.’”

Meanwhile, God is teaching him during this time to be more patient, not necessarily with patients at the hospital, but with the family as they live under the strain of new routines.

“What I’m learning is these relationships are very valuable and to slow down and try to understand and take the time to connect and listen to and respond to people.” Ketcherside said. “Something could happen and we could no longer be here. You don’t want your relationships to be strained, but take time and develop (them)."    

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