UNDATED -- The fight to contain the spread of COVID-19 continues, and many people are on the front lines, working daily to keep communities safe.

One such person is Eric Theisen. Eric, a registered nurse and Sartell resident, works full-time in the intensive care unit at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. On weekends, he works in the Endoscopy unit at St. Cloud Hospital.

Abbott Northwestern, located in the center of Minneapolis, is treating a number of COVID-19 patients, and Linda Theisen, Eric's mother, says her son is in charge of caring for the most critically ill among them.

"He told me recently that they had 25 total ICU patients out of 80 available beds," said Linda. “He's not worried. He tells me, ‘mom, I’m fine.’ But Eric – he has asthma, so he is vulnerable to this. He told me, of the 25 patients in the ICU, nine are (COVID-19) positive, with more on another COVID floor. He’s with the critical ones – those with ventilators, the ones who are really touch and go.”

While Linda says her son has reassured her that Abbott is equipped to handle the influx of patients, the pandemic has heightened her concern.

“I try to touch base with him and see if he’s okay, because it worries me, maybe more because I'm his mother,” Linda said. “I ask him, ‘do you have time to sleep and exercise? Are you eating all right?’ And he says, ‘I’m doing all right, mom.”

Linda says Eric, who became an RN in 2006, showed an aptitude for the profession long before then.

“He was definitely a science and math kid from way back when,” Linda said. “He just loved the details in all of it. He’s a very detail-oriented person. And being an RN, there’s so much documentation that needs to be done."

 

"But Eric, he really prefers being with the patient, telling them what he’s doing, how it should affect their health, gauging their comfort level. He says he really enjoys working with the patients because, for the most part, patients know little about health. He wants them to be comforted knowing that they’re being cared for. That’s the part he likes – much more than the paperwork.”

In addition to working two jobs during a public health crisis, Linda says Eric is studying for a certification in critical care with plans to enter medical school and become an anesthesiologist.

“If there's one word to describe him, it's focused,” Linda said. "He’s focused on caring for patients. He's focused on his goals in life, and what he wants to do. He's definitely my hero."

 

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