Retired first responders return to work to help fight COVID-19

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Retired first responders are returning to work to help fight COVID-19 after a call to return to duty from the Governor.

Hospitals all across the state, like St. Agnes Medical Center, are preparing for a potential surge in patients.

Former medical workers and new graduates have responded to the urgent plea for help as the skyrocketing increase of COVID-19 patients threatens hospital rooms.

One of those is Christi Paradise, who retired from Saint Agnes Medical Center in 2019 but didn't waste any time in volunteering.

"St. Agnes is my family and the infection prevention teams are my colleagues. When they're in need I want to be there," she said.

Paradise retired as an infection prevention coordinator, and is back supporting the same department.

Her job consists of making sure those in the front lines, including herself, have the necessary equipment to stay safe.

"We're able to identify logistics - what masks we need, do we have enough those things...," she said.

This comes days after Governor Gavin Newsom's call for former medical employees and students to help during the COVID-19 crisis.

Doctors say another challenge they face is the timing of test results, which they say, on average, could take at least 5 days.

Dr. Rachel Yankey said St. Agnes will soon be getting test kits recently approved for emergency use by the FDA, which is expected to return results in an hour.

"By having a quicker turnaround, you not only get a more accurate treatment, but you'll also move through that system and if their test is negative, allow space for someone who is positive."

Yankey, however, said the supply is limited and the testing will have to be prioritized for those that are critically ill, and first responders.

"Once we get our monthly allotment, we should be able to test at least 35 or so patients a day in that way."

The kits should be delivered in about a week.

While Yankee and Paradise remain on the front lines of the fight, they ask folks to do their part - and stay home.
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