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Cheyann Syster, registered nurse

Editor’s note: The Gazette is periodically profiling workers who strive to keep us safe and healthy during the pandemic. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, employees at Indiana Regional Medical Center have provided a lifeline to their patients.

“It was something I never expected to happen in my first year of nursing, but it was very rewarding,” said Cheyann Syster, a registered nurse in IRMC’s telemetry unit.

“We get a lot of the cardiac patients,” Syster said. “During the pandemic the back half of our unit got transferred into the COVID unit as well.”

There, usually, four or five nurses may be working on a shift, sometimes as the only human contact with a coronavirus patient.

“It was a big change for us to get used to,” Syster said.

Eventually, the staff got a hold of the particulars needed to take care of those patients,

“When their families could not be there, it was important for the nurses to be there,” Syster said. “With the whole coronavirus experience, the whole world was terrified, and a lot of the patients we had were very scared of the virus. It was really rewarding to watch them get healthier.”

While there’s a rotation with other nurses, sometimes there might only be one or two nurses on a shift.

“We managed it,” Syster said. “We helped to keep the patients comfortable and healthy.”

The Purchase Line-area resident is a 2019 graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a minor in psychology. She lives about a half-hour’s drive from IRMC.

“I’ve worked at IRMC over two years,” she said. “For a little over a year I worked as a nursing assistant, and I worked the whole hospital, all of the different floors. As a registered nurse my focus has been on telemetry.”

Syster’s support system is well rooted in eastern Indiana County.

“I just got married last year,” she said.

William Syster and the former Cheyann Johnson will mark their first anniversary next month. Both have extended families in the Indiana area, including Mrs. Syster’s parents, both of her sisters, and five nieces and nephews.

“My husband’s parents and two of his brothers still live in this area,” Syster said. “A third brother, his wife and their son live in Texas.”