WESTLAKE, Ohio — Marlene Oliver has been taking care of the sick for 22 years. She says, she's always known the profession was meant for her.
“I think that I came into nursing because I really felt that that was my calling as far as, it's almost spiritual for me," Marlene told us. “We do it for family. You know, we do it for our community, we do it for everybody.”
Marlene is 64, and just two years ago, she obtained her masters degree in nursing. Student loans are high -- nearing $40,000. But to her, it was all worth it.
“I've never regretted not one dime I spent in it studying," Marlene.
Marlene is a clinical manager for the critical care unit at University Hospitals St. John Medical Center in Westlake. For months, she's been prepping her team for COVID-19 patients.
"All of us had to learn the procedure for caring for the patient. In addition to absorbing some of our colleagues from other units and cross training them in critical care nursing so that should we have a large surge, we would have the team prepared to take care of it. So we trained 46 nurses on ventilator care," Marlene said.
Still, being prepared doesn't compare to the reality of COVID-19.
“I've never seen anything like this in any place that I've ever worked.”
Separated from her own family for safety, Marlene understands how much her patients miss their loved ones.
“Thirty-five beds of patients who can't have family members visit. We put phones up to their ears. We do FaceTime on our own phones,” Marlene said. “I can't imagine going through that and being sick.”
But her giving doesn't stop there. Marlene, a mother of five and grandmother, has also opened up her home to many teens, without one.
“I just feel like that God has always blessed me and I think blessings are to give to other people. It's almost like a stewardship thing. If I have something more, than that means that I'm being trusted to give to those that have less,” Marlene said.
We thought it was our turn, to reward Marlene. So, we surprised her with a check for $10,000, courtesy of Jim Surace, of Surace, Smith and Partners Insurance Group.
Her reaction, was priceless.
“Oh my gosh. Lindsay. Oh my gosh. Are you kidding me? To do something that I love every day ... I would volunteer here! Oh, thank you," Marlene exclaimed.
Then, we showed her the video of Jim expressing his gratitude for her service.
“Hi Marlene. I just want to say on behalf of my wife, Nancy and myself, and of course in cooperation with Channel Three, that we are just so heartened by all the healthcare workers, and their unselfish service to all of us, especially during these trying times. Your personal story of helping others with no personal gain to yourself has touched my heart, as well as many. I'm delighted to be able to lighten your load a little and, bless you at this time. May God bless you and all the other heroes out there, just like yourself."
With that, Marlene said, while choking back tears:
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you. I don't even know what to say. Seriously, I don't even know what to say. Thank you.”
Marlene, thank you for your dedication and service on the frontlines.