Sheena Williams is a nurse at one of Philadelphia’s biggest hospitals. In the early stages of the pandemic hitting the U.S., she sent her 3-year-old son to live with his dad to protect him. She documented her frustrations and struggles on her Instagram account, urging people to stay home during the pandemic. Shortly after one of her Instagram videos goes viral, George Floyd was killed, sparking nationwide protests over police brutality and systemic racism that quickly spread across the globe. Williams has found herself at a crossroads and sees an opportunity to use her platform for good. “I want my page to always be a beacon of light and love and things that I’m passionate about, social injustices going forward. But I also want to continue to spread awareness, number one. Number two is to create accountability because in this world, we’ve got a lot of mess,” Williams said.
When COVID-19 came about, I became a full-throttled warrior.
Globally, the fight against the coronavirus pandemic has depleted resources, resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and put continued strain on health care workers who are on the frontlines of the crisis. Doctors and nurses are fighting for the lives of their patients, helping some make it back to their families and witnessing others succumb to their symptoms, which all takes a serious mental and physical toll.
Global Health Reporting Center’s video series “A Diary From the Frontline” spotlights the efforts of four health care workers from the US, the UK and Italy. Philadelphia nurse Sheena Williams finds herself at a crossroads when national protests over systemic racism and police brutality came amid calls for Americans to stay home. San Diego’s Dr. Davey Smith is balancing clinical trials of a potential COVID-19 treatment and hospital rounds. British nurse Alison Harris has seen her role shift to caring and intubating critically ill patients. And Dr. Giuliana Battagin from Italy, who tested positive for COVID-19 early on, has had to put aside her work as an infectious disease doctor to stay home and quarantine– where she spent her time documenting her family’s journey.
This series was produced through a partnership with Emma Watts of Green Bean Pictures and was published by PBS Newshour.