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Antigone “Tig” Branch

Antigone Tig Branch - 1 (1)
Photo: Jonathan Strayhorn, Media Arts Collective

What more can I do to help families?

By Antigone “Tig” Branch, as told to QCity Metro Staff

During the latter part of 2019, I had heard some blurbs here and there: Something’s coming from another country, and if we don’t get a handle on it, it could potentially lead to a pandemic.

People were getting these colds that didn’t go away. It wasn’t the flu, and some people were sick for a long time.

I’d lived and worked through H1N1 and all of the others that were near-misses, like Ebola. In the back of my mind I was thinking, If it’s anything like that, we have a vaccine. We’d have to triage people a little differently, but within a couple months it would be fine.

It wasn’t until mid-February 2020 that I was like, Well, this is different.

Around March 15, everything really started rolling. In the emergency department, we were changing so rapidly that it was organized chaos. We would start one process in the morning, and by noon, we had probably done four different changes to the same process.

There was a time where I worked probably 20 days in a row, all day. My husband was like, Do you come home, or do you stay at a hotel? When I think about the day-to-day of just caring for patients and caring for each other, it was very intense. We weren’t sure what we were going to have to do next. It was like having our hair on fire for months.

When we were having limited visitation, we had to think outside the box. Having family there for the patient is impactful. Patients do better when they have their families with them. You never want anyone to be by themselves, especially at the end of life. But then you think, They’re not. That’s why God put me here, to be that in-between.

I remember one nurse who talked a family member through the passing of his mother. She put her hand on the glass, and the son put his hand on the glass while she talked them through it all.

Many of us were dealing with the same thing. My grandson had Covid.  That was very hard for me. Being a medical person and knowing what’s going on, yet having a family member that’s in the hospital and you can’t get to them is even more intense. It brought us back to, Okay, what more can I do to help families?

There were days when teammates were sick and there wasn’t anybody else available. I pitched in with patient care. The facility executive would help transport patients. We all had to be all in. It definitely tested my faith and my resilience. We were tired. Our emotions got stretched. There were periods of crying and anger. I don’t remember really getting my head a little bit above water until August.

I think of moments where I felt like I didn’t know what was going on or I didn’t know what to do. It was hard. Today, I give myself a little bit more grace than I did before Covid. And if I’m able to have more grace with myself, I am able to have more grace with others, able to even more so put myself in their shoes. It’s definitely helped me grow, all the way around. Not just as a leader, but as a person, as a wife and as a grandmother.

To our readers: We’ve long known about Covid-19’s disproportionate impact on Black communities across America. At QCity Metro, our mission dictates that we document that reality. But even amidst a pandemic, we also find stories of hope, inspiration and perseverance. This series is dedicated to telling those stories.

Our “Portraits of Perseverance” series is funded by the Facebook Journalism Project and sponsored locally by OrthoCarolina. To share your Covid story, email with the word “Portraits” in the subject line.

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