IU Health Bloomington Hospital

Sacrifice is at the heart of Katy Howe’s commitment to family, patients

We are IU Health

April 27, 2020

Imagine being a single mother of four, managing an emergency department at a hospital and having to self-quarantine from your children during this COVID-19 pandemic. As if that wasn’t enough, the two youngest of your four children have compromised immune systems and are “Riley Kids.” Your oldest daughter, who is now out of work and school because of this crisis, has moved in with your parents to care for your two youngest daughters, and your dad is also immunocompromised, having recently undergone open heart surgery.

This has been the life of team member Katy Howe, RN, director of emergency services at IU Health Bloomington Hospital. “It’s been over four weeks now, and life is full of Facetime chats and porch drop-offs, air hugs and blown kisses -- from a distance, of course, to help everyone cope with the separation and anxiety during this trying time,” she explained. “Sometimes I pull up to my parents and sit in my car and the girls come out on the porch, and we talk and laugh. We’ve learned how to play cards via Facetime and eat holiday dinners together, separated by windows.”

Katy, who has been an IU Health team member going on 20 years (the first 18 at IU Health Methodist), and her oldest son, Isaac, an EMT, firefighter and recent IU graduate who works for IU Health Lifeline, live together in a “first responder” house while maintaining a safe distance from her other family members who reside in a “safe” house. She is quick to admit that her case is not unique by any means. In fact, her life is not unlike those of many front-line workers and first responders who are challenged by the COVID pandemic each and every day.

“We are all facing different obstacles during this crisis,” she said. “We all have to ride this wave together. We will be stronger because of it.”

For Katy, the care teams at IU Health Bloomington Hospital, and throughout the South Central Region, have kept quality patient care at the forefront during this crisis and have grown closer during adversity. In addition, the communities we serve have poured their hearts out to team members through donations and words of encouragement and support.

“We at IU Health are so appreciative of the support we have received from our community. We couldn’t do this without them,” she said. “I would like to thank IU Health team members for all the dedication, perseverance and resilience they’ve shown, not just them but their families as well. When you choose to work on the front lines, so does your family.”

One of the biggest lessons Katy has learned throughout the pandemic is that it’s all about sacrifices and keeping each other and our communities safe, no matter how hard that may seem.

“Hold your family tight,” she said. “Appreciate them. Take this time to learn that all of us need to slow down and pay attention to those around us, and cherish those moments. I’m a hugger, my little girls are cuddle bugs. I can’t wait just to squeeze them! I think the quiet in my house has also been difficult. Sometimes I turn on a television upstairs and one downstairs just to make noise. Quiet is something I am not used to at all.”

Her words of advice at this trying time? Stay the course for the safety of all.

“Keep washing your hands,” she said, “and we will all get through this together. This isn’t just about our frontline workers, it’s about our families, our neighbors and our communities. There isn’t one person that hasn’t been affected by this in some way. We have to get back to taking care of each other and keep this momentum going.

“This is nothing any of us have ever experienced before, and I’m sure none of us will ever forget.”

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