Kate Rahenkemp

Kate Rahenkemp (Source: LEX 18)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- As the commonwealth sees the most COVID-19 cases since March, nurses are pleading with the public to get vaccinated.

Less than a month ago, Baptist Health ICU nurse Kate Rahenkemp says things looked promising. COVID-19 cases were at their lowest and there wasn't a single patient in her hospital's ICU.

Now it's a very different picture, according to a report by LEX 18. Rahenkemp says she can't believe we're here again.

"I definitely feel like I have some trauma from it because I get a lot of anger with people not wanting to get vaccinated and protect themselves because it's affecting us here in the hospital mentally.

And a lot of us have, you know, increased anxiety and stress from the virus," Rahenkemp said.

One year ago, Rahenkemp says she faced one of the toughest battles of her entire life. When she began treating patients at the hospital, she had her son stay with her parents.

"I was very depressed. Stayed in bed a lot. Went on a lot of walks. I think I walked, like, nine miles a day. That was the only way to get out of bed," said Rahenkemp.

When vaccines became widely available, cases went down, restrictions were lifted, and she felt a little relief.

"That felt great," she said. "Not having COVID patients in our ICU -- or not a high number -- and then not on a high number in the hospital was great. We all thought that we're on the other side of things, everything's going to get better."

Not even a month later, she says it was like a flip of a switch.

"It was like, instantly, and we had this big surge of COVID again," said Rahenkemp.

As of Wednesday, Baptist Health in Lexington is caring for fourteen COVID patients. Tow are in the ICU.

The University of Kentucky hospital is treating 19 COVID patients. Four are in the ICU. The majority of them were unvaccinated.

"It just feels oddly familiar," she said. "It feels like we're back, you know, last year. And I'm just -- I'm sad. I'm sad that we're having to, you know, take care of more of these patients again. It's just hard."

Rahenkemp says it's especially frustrating because now there is something people can do.

"Please get vaccinated," she said. "Please. We beg you. We'll take care of you if you come in with, you know, the best of care that we can possibly give. But we want you to be healthy and safe, and with your family at home. We don't want you to have to come into the hospital to have to be put on a ventilator and potentially pass away."

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