Joe Chiarmonte

Apr 20, 2021

4 min read

Erin Center — A Nurse Helping Her Community

Erin celebrating the holidays with family (Courtesy of Erin Center)

The Coronavirus pandemic has been a call to action for many of the “helpers” in this world. One way or another, the world has seen numerous people come out and make a difference for the sake of helping others during these hard times. Possibly the biggest acknowledgments go to the trained medical professionals, who are constantly working in stressful, chaotic and risky environments in order to be of aid to those in need. Erin Center, a young nurse and just recently out of college, is one of these helpers.

After attending SUNY Brockport, and completing an accelerated Bachelor’s program at the University of Rochester’s Med school, the 22 year-old just recently started working in the burn trauma ICU at Strong Memorial Hospital, in Rochester. She says that while it sounds tough, like working 12 hour shifts and constantly treating those in need, there are so many reasons why she loves what she does.

“The most rewarding part is being a part of the help. I have the responsibilities of identifying what’s wrong with a patient, making suggestions, and overall caring for people who need my assistance,” Center said in an interview.

That’s not all she does, however. Erin is constantly being faced with new patients and new situations, and she says that often times it is up to her to ensure the well-being of those who check in at Strong Memorial.

“Being part of the Burn ICU, many of the cases we see are urgent, where patients require immediate attention. I make decisions that can heavily impact someone’s health, and if those decisions were not made, or they were wrongfully made, it could affect the outcome of that patient’s health,” Center explained.

Starting just recently, back in early December of 2020, Center initially shadowed a fellow co-worker, where she gained a ton of experience and learned what her unit was all about. Many cases require fast thinking, and the need to be aware and focused at all times. With this brings a lot of stress. But Center works through it and embraces the loads of responsibilities she has, because otherwise her patients could not be treated properly.

“Because we’re apart of the Burn unit, many of our cases are urgent. We have people coming straight from the ER. There’s no time to rest, or call in for help. We are the front line, there is no one else to wait for. It’s just us.”

Erin wearing her mask just before her shift starts at Burn Memorial. (Courtesy of Erin Center)

Savannah Lotta, a close friend and collogue of Erin, supports her friend’s efforts and validates her passion to help others.

“Erin has always been a hard working and dedicated person. Working with her at UofR and now in healthcare has only solidified this,” Lotta said. “Just from knowing her, you can tell she’s right where she belongs. She is the most caring and loving person, and thoroughly enjoys helping others in need.”

Center has received plenty of good feedback from those who she works with, and the patients she assists. Everyone has a positive thing to say about her.

During the pandemic, Center has described her situation as stressful and scary.

“It’s scary sometimes, because although we test our patients and take proper precautions, sometimes it is not enough. We usually assume every patient we get is positive for the time-being, which means we gown up, sanitize, and distant ourselves when possible. Although, working in this unit makes that tough, because we get a lot of urgent cases, where people require immediate attention and we don’t have time to do things in a ‘Covid- Safe’ way,” Center said. “We’ve had a few patients come back positive for Covid, but by then it’s too late because we were already treating them beforehand. There’s nothing you can do about it, which can be stressful because you don’t know who is going to be exposed and who you could possibly expose.”

Thankfully, as a registered nurse, Center was able to get her Covid vaccine early, back in January. However, it is still something that lingers in the back of her mind.

Erin with graduates and friends. (Courtesy of UR Med)

Erin is part of a team of people who’s mission is to ensure the health of others. While she doesn't directly work with Covid patients, in these times, she is still ready to help those in need, and from time to time will interact with a person with Covid. Either way, the hospital setting is a place for those injured or sick, Covid or burn, to find the help they so desperately need. Center finds her work extremely rewarding and loves that fact that she is helping others.

“Being part of a team that can constantly have positive affects on someone in need, and to ensure that we prevent adverse outcomes is what I love most. We have the ability, and responsibility to positively impact some body’s health, and while it is a lot to carry on my shoulders, I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.”