Skip to content

Local grad travels to Massachusetts to work with COVID-19 patients

Joni Marion hugs her children before embarking on a trip to the East Coast to work with COVID-19 patients.


Joni Marion, a 2006 McCreary Central graduate, has taken a huge step to help others in need during the COVID-19 outbreak. A licensed nurse, Joni has accepted what is known as a crisis contract to work directly with COVID-19 patients in Massachusetts for the next 8 weeks.

As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads, more and more medical professionals are accepting these short-term contracts to fill vacancies and cover gaps that arise as the demands on medical care grows.

Marion spoke with us on her decision to leave her family behind and go to the front lines of the virus to give help to those  who need it.

After graduating Joni entered the health care field, first becoming a CNA, and later working her way to an LPN, moving to Louisville last year to work for Norton Health Care. She said family history influenced her career path.

“My mom is a nurse and I’ve just always felt like it was my calling; helping people when most wouldn’t,” she said.

With two young girls at home, the decision to pack up and leave to go to a place where the virus is rampaging wasn’t an easy choice, but she felt the call to use her skills to help others who need it most.

“The decision to go to Massachusetts wasn’t an easy one to make at all,” she said. “Especially since I have two daughters here that need me. I look around and I see so many people suffering and struggling. Nurses and doctors working more than they should be because they are understaffed. I needed to be somewhere that I could help, somewhere I could apply my skills and knowledge to do my part.”

“My family didn’t take the news the best. They are worried about me, of course. But they were also very supportive. They know I’m going to help and trying to do my part to make a difference. It is so hard being away from my girls. I make an effort to call my family daily, even on my longest days I still make time for my family.”

Even though she has seen her share of unpleasantness in her career as a nurse, Marion said this experience is totally new to her.

“Being on the ‘front lines,’ so to speak, is a lot more difficult than I realized it would be,” she said. “Hearing about someone taking a bad turn in literally just a day’s time, and then actually seeing it firsthand is surreal.”

“The biggest thing I think I have taken away from my experience so far is just to be appreciative of the simple times that we were used to, appreciate the people we have in our lives because things can happen so quickly that can change everything. It’s definitely more difficult dealing with the mental aspects.”

Due to patient confidentiality, Joni could not speak directly about her patients, but she did share how she deals with the physical and mental tolls working first-hand with people dealing with the virus.

“I’ve only been here a short time and have already witnessed what COVID-19 is doing to people’s health. Not just their health, but the fear that is associated with the virus. I try to focus on taking it one day at a time, doing what I can for who I can, and I focus on the mental part on my own time. Right now, I’m trying to stay healthy physically and mentally so that I can help others do the same.”

Joni says the most important message she would share with people is to take the situation seriously.

“I know it’s hard to understand how serious it is just by reading articles online, but take it from me: I’ve seen suffering and death from COVID-19 in just the short time I’ve been in Massachusetts,” she said. “People are up walking around and joking one day, and gone the next. Literally transitioning overnight.”

“Please protect your loved ones and protect yourselves. Follow CDC guidance, listen to your governors, check on your loved ones via phone. I don’t think people are taking this seriously enough. They need to stop the secret social gatherings and unnecessary spreading of this virus.”

Another McCreary County resident and LPN, Jessica Perry, has also taken on a contract and will be joining Marion in Massachusetts on the front lines.

Leave a Comment