Former Oakland University athlete helping to care for COVID-19 patients

By: Mark Vest | C&G Newspapers | Published April 14, 2020

 In his role as a nurse, former Oakland University athlete Tyler Sirut has been helping to care for Coronavirus patients.

In his role as a nurse, former Oakland University athlete Tyler Sirut has been helping to care for Coronavirus patients.

Photo provided by Tyler Sirut

After graduating from Oakland University with a nursing degree this past December, little did Tyler Sirut know that months later he would be “in the middle of a pandemic.”

The Macomb L’Anse Creuse North graduate and former hammer thrower for Oakland’s track and field program accepted a nursing position at a local hospital in February, and approximately 10 shifts into his new full-time position he was on the frontline in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some of what Sirut has observed since has been “really sad.”

“You’ll have people come in, they’ll be fine, you can talk to them, and then a couple hours later, unfortunately, they pass away,” Sirut said. “Even though we do everything that we could do, it’s still just not enough. … So, it’s really sad, how fast these people can go from walking in, they can talk to you and everything like that, to by the end of (the) shift, they could pass away.”

While just hearing or reading about the impact the pandemic has had can be tough to take for some, being so close to it has at times been emotionally difficult for Sirut.

“It’s really hard,” he said. “There’s no visitors for anybody, so these people have wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons and stuff like that at home, and you’re the only one that can be with (them) in their last moments. So, that part is really hard. … I think that’s the most difficult part, that people are kind of dying alone and their family can’t be there with them.”

As for his own safety, Sirut wears personal protective equipment.

“Usually, when you have patients that require this much protective equipment, there’s certain rooms that you can put them in with negative pressure and stuff like that, and you only wear your PPE when you go in those rooms,” he said. “But being in the emergency department, there’s just so many coronavirus patients that we have to wear our protective equipment pretty much our whole shift. Basically, we only get to take it off when we go to break.”

It isn’t just himself and patients that Sirut wants to keep protected.

“I don’t (want to) bring this home,” he said. “I have people that I live with, so it’s hard to quarantine away from them. … Every day I go in and I’m exposed to people that are confirmed. They’re not suspected coronavirus patients; these are people that have the test and they have the coronavirus, and I’m working hands on with them. … If I got it, was a carrier and just didn’t know it, then passed it on to somebody, that’s probably what I’m most afraid of.”

Sometimes medical professionals can also use some care, and the attention they have received from community members has not gone unnoticed.

“All this support and appreciation from the community really helps out,” Sirut said. “All the people that thank us, and people are donating meals, food, homemade masks and stuff. … The community is helping us out so much, and it’s really appreciated.”