The VOICE of UPMC Shadyside Winter 2020–2021

“We’ve handled everything this virus has thrown at us.”

Ria Carter
Patient Care Technician, 4 East

Several years ago, Ria Carter was working as a nursing assistant in a nursing home, but she was hoping for a more challenging career. That dream came true when she joined UPMC Shadyside as a patient care technician, working alongside the nursing staff like an extra pair of hands — drawing blood, taking vitals, attaching heart monitors. Then came a wholly unexpected challenge: COVID-19.

“I was one of the first PCTs to work in the COVID unit,” says Ms. Carter. “My heart started pounding when I first learned I would be taking care of COVID patients. My son, Cason, is three. He was the first thing I thought of. I even contemplated taking a leave from work. But with prayer, I just pushed through. 

“It was a little nerve-wracking to put on all the protective equipment. During those first days, I would bring a change of clothes for when I went to pick up Cason at daycare.

“This virus is scary; it’s very real. Every patient is affected differently — that’s what’s so unusual about it.

"I try to make my patients comfortable. I let them know they’re not sick alone."
- Ria Carter

“I try to make my patients comfortable. I let them know they’re not sick alone. I remember one woman, who was with us for 10 days and was really sick. I noticed one day she was so fatigued; she just looked bad. I tried to soothe her and not treat her like an outcast. The next day she was like a whole new person; she looked good and wanted me to help her with a shower. She thanked me so much for caring for her.

“One day a neighbor I didn’t even know in my Baldwin apartment building saw me in scrubs and stopped to say, ‘Thank you.’ Those things mean a lot.

“At first we were slammed with patients; it’s more settled now. We know it’s not over — but I also know how prepared we are. Our team is so tough; we’ve handled everything this virus has thrown at us. There’s no other group I would rather fight this battle with. I’m proud of the people I work with every day.

“I come from a small, close-knit family, and they have a lot of questions. I assure them I’m safe.”