Posted April 3, 2020
Cleveland Clinic registered nurse and Lorain County Community College graduate Michelle Thimke finds joy in the simple things while dealing with the uncertainty of treating patients in the hospital’s Surgical Intensive Care Unit – uncertainties that are now compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Catching up and checking in on my family and friends brings me the most joy,” said Thimke, who is an intensive care nurse in the surgical ICU. She and her husband, Corey, are Elyria natives who now live in Lakewood.
“I also find a lot of peace from exercise, so I have been keeping up with my weekly routine of jogs, long walks, yoga, and now at-home workout videos,” she said.
Thimke, who earned an associate of science degree from LCCC in 2014 and an associate degree in nursing from LCCC in 2016, starts her morning off from work with an online service or daily devotional from her Lakewood church. “This helps me have the right mindset for the day. I try to limit time spent on social media so that I am not influenced by the hysteria some are causing,” she added.
Facing this current public health crisis is not easy for any healthcare professional, but Thimke believes her education and training from LCCC prepared her for the challenges she now faces.
“The Nursing program at LCCC in particular was the most challenging endeavor I have accomplished in my life thus far. Looking back, I am so thankful for the high standards set by the professors in lecture, lab, and clinical because I would not be the nurse I am today without that level of preparation,” she said. The professors in the program helped shape her and prepared her to take the NCLEX (nurse licensure exam). “I had a relatively seamless transition when I began my career.”
Healthcare professionals and first responders face anxiety on a regular day and that is now magnified during this pandemic, but she uses a different focus in her day-to-day work with patients.
“I think vigilance is a better word to describe my actions and feelings regarding the COVID-19 pandemic,” Thimke said. “At work, I have to be more vigilant while caring for patients to keep them and myself safe from harm. I find myself looking out for the safety of all members of our healthcare team more intentionally, especially regarding proper use and removal of PPE (personal protective equipment).”
After beginning her career in nursing at the Cleveland Clinic she continued her education by earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from The University of Akron and is now pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing degree from Kent State University. She also co-taught a nursing simulation lab at LCCC prior to returning to school to earn her MSN.
Thimke was drawn to health care after she lost her grandmother, whom she called Mema Sandy, to pancreatic cancer when Thimke was a teenager. “I remember feeling so helpless and unaware of what to expect as she fought courageously,” Thimke noted.
Thimke’s passion only grew as she took courses in anatomy, physiology and genetics at Elyria High School during her senior year. “When the time came to make my career choice, it seemed to me that nursing was the best way to combine my desire to feel empowered while caring for people and my passion for learning about health and the human body,” she said.
Because research and recommendations for public health are changing almost daily Thimke would like everyone to remember to be selfless during this time and think of others, especially the elderly and those with weakened or compromised immune systems. “Abide by social distancing recommendations and follow stay-at-home orders. Together we can combat this, and we will learn from our shortcomings,” she said.
After all, we all need to reflect on the simple things in our lives like our family and friends, she said. “I could not ask for a more loving and supportive family,” Thimke said. “They are truly my greatest blessing in life.”