Catching Up With YSU Volleyball Alumna, Nurse Val Montgomery

Val (Jeffery) Montgomery
Val (Jeffery) Montgomery

Val (Jeffery) Montgomery was the Horizon League Setter of the Year in 2014 and earned all-conference honors twice in her three-year volleyball career at Youngstown State. Now, she's an intensive care nurse at Christus Spohn Hospital Kleberg in Kingsville, Texas, during the coronavirus pandemic.

What medical training did you go through after YSU? When did you earn your advanced degree/certification?

After graduating from YSU, I earned a spot in West Florida Hospital's nurse residency program that trained newly-graduated and licensed RNs for 10 weeks. The first five weeks were instructor-led in-classroom lectures, as well as intense group simulations located in Destin, Fla., and the remaining five weeks were on the floor at WFH where I was to work with a preceptor. I worked at WFH for 6 months on their medical-surgical floor, attending to mostly post-operative patients.

What is your specialty?

As of now, I'm an intensive care nurse working in an ICU at Christus Spohn Hospital Kleberg in Kingsville, TX.

Major at Youngstown State and graduation year:

Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Fall 2018.

Why did you choose to get into medicine and how long did you know you wanted to be a nurse?

I've always loved science and the human body. We have still so much to learn about it. I also loved helping people and wanted to do so in a direct, hands-on way. Nursing seemed like the perfect fit. It wasn't until I attended my first college at High Point University in North Carolina that I realized I wanted to be a nurse. I decided to transfer after my first semester in order to get the fastest start possible on my BSN. Luckily, I was able to continue athletics and pursue this degree simultaneously with the help of my former coach, Mark Hardaway, my advisors and professors.

What are some of your fondest memories of YSU?

I really miss watching my friends play their sports, and I definitely miss playing in Beeghly Center with my teammates... And the locker room dance parties before every match, of course.

At what point did you realize that COVID-19 was very serious?

About two weeks ago when I read personal accounts from Italian doctors and nurses on Reddit. Even with a socialized healthcare system, they were wildly unprepared for the outcome of this pandemic.

What has been the biggest challenge(s) for you individually during this time?

Knowing that if I contract this virus, I will be out of work for two weeks, hopefully not hospitalized. We are already short-staffed on our unit, and losing trained personnel in the midst of a pandemic only prolongs the recovery process.

What are the steps that healthcare workers are taking to prevent contracting the virus while treating patients?

Although we haven't treated any patients directly for COVID-19 at our hospital, our administration has taken extra precautions by ensuring communication is the top priority. They're updating policies daily, sometimes by the hour, screening every visitor for a temperature, limiting/restricting family visitation, and limiting public entrances to the hospital to just the ER and main entrance. We continue to wash our hands/arms for 20 seconds with soap and warm water after each patient encounter, encouraging each other to avoid touching our faces, and taking the time to don personal protective equipment (PPE) for our contact/droplet precaution patients.

What advice do you want to share with people to avoid contracting COVID-19?

Please stay home. You've heard it a million times, but it's the best line of defense we have to slow the spread of this virus. By staying home, you can directly affect and limit the number of hospital admissions, which gives us healthcare providers a fighting chance to help those who are already admitted. And stay off Facebook. Get your updates and statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) or Johns Hopkins website.

Are there any misconceptions about COVID-19 that you've noticed?

  1. There is no such thing as "herd immunity" for a novel (new) virus without a vaccine. Herd immunity works when people around you get a vaccination, and in turn, protect the ones who can't get vaccinated like the immunocompromised.
  2. "I'm young and healthy, so even if I get it, I won't die from it. There's no point to staying in." Unfortunately, there have been deaths of young patients. Regardless, do not think this way. It's not very selfless.
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