Tess Feury balances the Pediatric Intensive Care unit, efforts to treat COVID–19 and remote training for the senior national team.
Tess Feury is an accomplished member of the Women’s Eagles.
In college, she claimed multiple accolades including four championship titles, as well as MVP and All-American honors with Penn State University in 7s and XVs.
Internationally, she was picked as Captain for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games and made her debut with the senior XVs side in 2016 against England. In 2017, she helped the USA become semifinalists in her first Rugby World Cup in Ireland.
Feury is also a full-time nurse at a hospital in Northern New Jersey.
And in her role, she serves the Pediatric Intensive Care unit as well as the Emergency Department in the fight against COVID-19. Right now, it’s all hands on deck.
Most all USA Women’s National Team XVs players balance full-time jobs and training in order to support themselves financially and represent the United States on the world stage. It’s not easy on a normal day — and it becomes a much greater challenge for a healthcare professional in the midst of a pandemic.
“Typically I am only directly assigned to 2 patients per shift, since the children are often in critical condition,” said Feury. “However, with the recent COVID-19 pandemic, our workload has changed to help us better manage the amount of patients we are seeing. Throughout the hospital, it is a team effort to aid in this pandemic. That includes helping out on whatever unit needs it most that shift.”
Feury works three 12-hour shifts per week, spending nearly all of that time on her feet for both the day shifts from 7 AM to 7 PM and night shifts from 7 PM to 7 AM. The hospital she works at in New Jersey has, along with New York, become the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. Her own hospital treats thousands of cases in the area.
According to the New Jersey Department of Health website, more than 700 cases of Coronavirus had been reported in the state as of Friday, March 20.
“I’m not going to lie, each day when I drive into work I feel more anxious than I used to. I have no idea what I am going to walk into,” she says. “With the ever changing protocols and new research coming out by the hour, the way I care for my patients is constantly evolving.”
Since the start of the pandemic, Feury has seen many changes to her daily workflow. The emergency department in her hospital has built outdoor disaster tents to triage patients with the infection, while additional rooms have been transformed to handle COVID-19 specifically and the hospital no longer allows visitors.
“My hospital is doing everything it can to protect our healthcare staff during this difficult time. We have all been fit tested for N-95 Respirator masks and trained on the proper usage of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). We have also been given rubber shoes, disposable scrubs and the option to shower at the hospital before coming home to our families.”
While the pandemic continues to evolve, with healthcare professionals having primary exposure to the scope and nature of the crisis, Feury finds herself inspired by the opportunity to support her country in a unique situation.
“Situations like this are why I wanted to become a nurse. I wanted to help the world when it needs me most and now I am truly getting that opportunity. I, along with millions of healthcare workers across the world, am on the front line of this pandemic and I’m honored to to help the country that has given me so much in its time of need.”
As Feury balances the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and COVID-19, the realities of remote training for the Women’s Eagles have become a new challenge in the mix. And still, despite the uncertainties associated with fighting the pandemic and resuming rugby, Feury is just as determined and optimistic in her devotion to both.
“With no organized practices or games, I am left to train on my own. I think these next few weeks are going to be a true test on my mental toughness. I need to stay diligent on my USA Rugby workouts and training during this difficult time and I know I’m up for the challenge with the support of USA Rugby and my teammates.
“Work-life-rugby balance has always been one of my strengths. When I’m passionate about something, I make sure I have the time to do it and do it right. Family, nursing and rugby are my main focus points for this year and I am ready to give them my all.”
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) continuously emphasize practices to stop the spread of COVID-19. Feury, in her unique position on the frontlines, reiterates the importance of following each guideline.
“Slowing the spread of COVID-19 is a team effort. We need all players to do their part.
“PLEASE, follow the recommendations of the CDC and your state government. Be extra diligent in handwashing and social distancing. These actions are not just protecting you and your loved ones, but the millions of healthcare workers fighting on the front line of this pandemic.
“Appropriate supplies to fight COVID-19 are limited and dwindling fast. I urge anyone who can donate masks, gloves, gowns and rubber shoes to their local hospital to please do so. Without these, our healthcare workers are at direct risk.”
While the fight against COVID-19 intensifies each day, Feury and medical professionals across the globe are confident the pandemic will pass if the community collectively bands together to follow the needed precautions. Sport itself may be gone for now but it will not be gone forever.
This pandemic will pass if we all do our part. And when it does, I promise, rugby will be there waiting for you.”