FRISCO, Texas — From being a pitcher on the first University of Georgia softball team to advance to the Women’s College World Series to serving on the front lines in the COVID-19 pandemic as an emergency room nurse at Medical City Frisco, Sarah Voth, formerly Sarah McCloud, continues to represent her school with pride and pave the way for Bulldogs to come.

A member of the 2009 SEC Community Service team, Voth explained that her love for science and her passion for helping others led her down the road of attending nursing school and pursuing a career in the medical field. Those two characteristics coupled with her ability to handle pressure and the thrill of adrenaline not only allowed her to have a successful career in the circle at Georgia, but has enabled her to excel as an ER nurse.

“As a pitcher, I thrived on pressure,” Voth said. “Sometimes I felt like I did better in pressure situations, whether that was the bases loaded, a runner on second or anytime there was a base runner. I felt like sometimes I pitched better under pressure situations. I think that is another thing about the ER. I am used to the pressure, I am prepared and I like being in those pressure situations.”

Even with her ability to handle high-pressure environments, Voth acknowledged the uncertainty of the times we are in and the fear of the unknown, especially in the beginning. Fortunately, Voth and her family, living in Frisco, are in an area that has not been hit hard by COVID-19 in comparison to virus hotspots. Voth praised the planning from her hospital and her community in preparation for handling the pandemic.

With an ample supply of PPE, the limited amount of patients suffering from COVID-19 compared to areas like New York and support from the surrounding community, Voth acknowledges how blessed she and her city have been and is thankful for the continuing safety she feels at work through these unprecedented times.

Though her safety has not been as compromised as those in COVID-19 hotspots, the pandemic has certainly changed the role Voth and nurses around the country play in the treatment of patients. Just like hospitals throughout the country, Voth’s place of work has implemented new safety precautions, a big change to life before the pandemic. Voth is also no longer allowed to wear her own scrubs to work but instead uses a different pair of OR scrubs daily.

Even more than the new safety attire, Voth commented on the new screening processes to enter the hospital. This process includes limiting the number of entrances into the hospital to two and having screeners present at both entrances. On top of that, Voth explained that the biggest change from the nurses’ perspective is that family members are no longer allowed to accompany patients into the emergency room or be with them through their stay. The scariness of a patient having to come to the ER either for symptoms of COVID-19 or for any emergency is heightened as they now have to face it without the support of their family or friends. This is where Voth, and other nurses, are able to step up and help patients in an already vulnerable state.

“From a nursing standpoint, that has been a huge change,” Voth said. “You have to make sure that your patients are comfortable and make sure they know they are safe. As a nurse, it should always be this way but it is just a little different because you may check on your patients more often. It can be even scarier for patients who do have COVID-19 because we are trying to slow down the use of our PPE. Every time you go in that room you are having to gown up, so you may not be able to be with that patient as much as you would in a normal situation. Then you have to keep family members up to date on what is going on just by phone because they are not allowed in. So, that is a huge change where we are.”

As a wife and a mom of a 1 1/2-year-old daughter, Voth described the unusual nature of some of the conversations and situations her family was forced to work through at the beginning of the pandemic.

“Initially, when there was unknowns, my husband and I had the conversation of what would happen if we started to see an increase of cases,” Voth said. “Our hospital was offering hotel rooms if you felt the need to stay in a hotel if you had felt like you had been exposed. So, my husband and I had that conversation and that is a weird conversation to have with your family, especially with my daughter being a year and a half. As an ER nurse, that is not something I ever thought that I would even have to consider talking to my family about. We came to the conclusion that we would stay together and take precautions. I never felt the need to go stay somewhere else, but initially that was a conversation that we had to have.” 

Voth said her time as a Georgia Bulldog and as a student-athlete have prepared her not only to handle the pandemic but also her career in the ER.

“I think that is huge working in the emergency department because you work so closely as a team and with your doctors, probably more so than any other area of the hospital,” Voth said. “I think growing up playing team sports and then my time at Georgia, playing with a group of girls, and being on a team prepared me to work in the ER.”

Voth had encouraging words for current Georgia student-athletes, specifically softball players, who didn’t get the chance to chase their dreams of playing in the Women’s College World Series or have been forced to hang up their cleats. She acknowledged that although it is hard to process at the time, with the memories of playing in her last game flooding back, softball isn’t going to be there forever. She encourages student-athletes to realize the opportunity it is to receive an education from the University of Georgia.

“I think the biggest thing to remember is all the relationships you make at UGA and your education,” Voth said. “It seems really hard right now, but looking down the road 10 years later, the education athletes receive at UGA is going to be so important… Five, six years down the road it is going to be your education and your career, or your family, that you are focused on. My biggest takeaway from UGA were the lessons I learned, the relationships I made and my education. Those are my three big things that I am forever grateful for.”

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