MACOMB TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Kevin Southway is on the frontlines.
A nurse anesthetist at Ascension Providence Hospital in Southfield, the De La Salle Collegiate alumnus has been in close contact with COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit.
“We were asked to volunteer, with compensation, to assist in the ICUs,” said Southway, who graduated in 1995. “Many of us have stepped up to the challenge. It’s a judgment-free zone, so I totally understand some not wanting to get more exposed to the virus.”
Southway is part of a team intubating patients so that they can go on ventilators.
“On an eight-hour shift, we helped extubate two patients, yet intubated three more,” he said. “The wins and losses are like a rollercoaster.
“Overall, the bravery and courage from the frontlines are immeasurable. Nurses, doctors, aides, housekeeping, dietary, and many others are adapting, working together, and stepping outside of their comfort zones caring for these patients suffering from COVID.”
Typically, Southway is assigned to operating rooms and often works with fellow De La Salle alumnus Nasir Rasheed, who graduated in 1991. Rasheed is an anesthesiologist at Providence. The two had previously worked together at McLaren Hospital in Macomb County.
Southway does his best to make sure he doesn’t bring the virus home to his wife, Alissa, and their three young children. Alissa is a nurse practitioner; normally she works contingency for urgent care, but is currently focusing on the kids, ages two, five and six.
“We’re considered a COVID hospital,” he said. “Even though I’m not around patients 100 percent of the time, we have to assume that anyone could be contaminated. The hospital has been providing the proper personal protective equipment, and we wear the N95 mask all day.”
He says only employees who show symptoms get tested.
“I still can’t comprehend that Michigan is the third-highest state with COVID,” Southway said. “But we were one of the first states to get the test with results in 15 minutes.”
Southway says that when he comes home, he leaves his clothes in the garage and showers with water from a hot bucket. Then he showers again in the bathroom, and lives and sleeps in the basement.
“The ultimate minimization would be a hotel room,” he said. “But we made a decision that I would be in the basement, and have limited interaction with Alissa and our kids.
“My family is doing great, and we’re trying to keep them busy. No one has been sick. My oldest is in kindergarten, and his school has delivered work.”
Southway trained as a nurse, and earned his nurse anesthetist degree in 2008, compares today’s healthcare workers with World War II veterans like his two grandfathers.
“God willing, I will grow old and have grandkids,” he said. “I’ll be sure to share with them the public health World War III stories I have experienced with my professional peers in 2020. I am so proud of each and every one of them.”