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Former PFW softball player serving on front lines during coronavirus pandemic

Purdue Fort Wayne softball senior Brooke Imel has been spending part of her time during Indiana's stay-at-home order doing what everyone else seems to be doing: staying at home, walking her dog in the park, and trying to keep her family safe and healthy.

Posted: May 15, 2020 12:37 PM
Updated: May 17, 2020 6:57 PM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) — Purdue Fort Wayne softball senior Brooke Imel has been spending part of her time during Indiana's stay-at-home order doing what everyone else seems to be doing: staying at home, walking her dog in the park, and trying to keep her family safe and healthy.

In this sense, Imel is doing her part to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

In another, she is doing even more.

Imel is in her penultimate semester of the nursing program at Purdue Fort Wayne. In December, she will graduate in the final class in the program's history at Purdue Fort Wayne.

As a part of her program, she is required to work in a hospital to satisfy the clinical requirements for her degree. Imel is working as a patient care technician at a hospital in Fort Wayne and has seen the virus firsthand.

She estimates that she has worked with up to 40 patients with COVID-19, as of May 4.

As expected, Imel has been going through extensive training sessions when dealing with the coronavirus, including the donning and discarding of personal protective equipment (PPE).

The hospital staff is equipped with gowns, masks, hairnets, gloves, goggles and shoe covers.

"The biggest thing for me that I was nervous about was not taking my protective equipment off correctly and contaminating myself or even contaminating the people around me that I'm working with," Imel said. "I feel like my body would be able to fight it better but I wouldn't want to contaminate my parents or grandparents or anyone with a weaker immune system."

As the coronavirus continues to spread to a reported 20,507 cases in Indiana (as of May 4), it becomes more likely that it affects someone in any social circle.

This is the case for Imel, as she saw a friend infected with the virus on a ventilator in the intensive care unit while she was working. He has since recovered and has been taken off the ventilator.

"To see him get incredibly better and to see that our researchers and scientists and doctors are working so hard to find something for this is really encouraging," Imel said. "Seeing those patients that I have worked with, that have been on vents, seeing them wake up and start talking and getting better is really cool for me."

"Sometimes you only hear about the negatives," Imel said. "But it's been good to see the amount of people that have been on vents for weeks at a time that have actually come off and become healthy."

Imel was in her final season with the softball program at Purdue Fort Wayne while working in the hospital.

The team was in Saint Louis, Missouri to take part in the Billiken Spring Tournament in mid-March before having the season cut short.

The team had just finished practice when the tournament was canceled and coach Germaine Fairchild told the team to load the bus for the return trip.

"It was really hard," Imel said. "It was an abrupt end that I wasn't ready for. I thought I had a couple months left with my team and coach G. But I think one of the most special parts was that I was on the bus with my team during that time. That really helped a lot to be with them and kind of comfort me and get that one last bus ride and make it memorable."

Imel lives at home in Leo, Indiana with her parents, Jason and Emily.

Even prior to the pandemic, Imel would take off her work shoes before entering the house, but this has escalated to her changing clothes entirely before walking through the front door.

She then immediately takes a shower prior to interacting with her family.

Her father is a firefighter and has been utilizing the same practices to keep her mother, who has been working from home, safe and healthy.

For her final semester at Purdue Fort Wayne in the fall, Imel will have three classes with one clinical rotation and will continue to work in the field in the spare time that she has.

As she continues to serve her community in the hospital, Imel urges everyone to stay positive when it seems most difficult.

"Be thankful for everything you have in life and for the health that you have," Imel said. "Take care of yourself so if this sort of thing ever happens again, you're putting yourself and your family in the best position to be healthy and fight against this if you are to get it."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 33558

Reported Deaths: 2110
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9616571
Lake3538185
Cass15897
Allen145168
St. Joseph124834
Elkhart116328
Hendricks116171
Hamilton115693
Johnson1093108
Madison58559
Porter51627
Bartholomew50034
Clark49241
LaPorte42423
Howard39526
Tippecanoe3903
Jackson3791
Delaware37736
Shelby36822
Hancock32728
Floyd31839
Boone30935
Morgan27824
Vanderburgh2652
Montgomery23517
White2318
Decatur22431
Clinton2231
Noble21121
Grant20621
Harrison19221
Dubois1923
Henry16910
Greene16824
Monroe16612
Warrick16628
Dearborn16621
Vigo1648
Lawrence15423
Miami1411
Putnam1367
Jennings1304
Orange12522
Scott1193
Kosciusko1111
Franklin1098
Ripley1086
Carroll922
Marshall901
Daviess8516
Steuben812
Newton7710
Wayne776
Fayette767
Wabash762
LaGrange712
Jasper651
Washington521
Jay500
Fulton481
Clay471
Rush462
Randolph463
Pulaski460
Jefferson431
Whitley393
Starke363
Sullivan341
Owen341
Brown331
DeKalb331
Perry310
Benton300
Knox290
Wells280
Huntington272
Tipton251
Crawford240
Blackford242
Fountain202
Switzerland200
Spencer191
Parke170
Posey160
Gibson142
Adams131
Ohio130
Warren121
Martin110
Vermillion100
Union80
Pike60
Unassigned0164

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 34566

Reported Deaths: 2131
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin5674256
Cuyahoga4318226
Marion265728
Hamilton2603147
Lucas2202240
Pickaway205036
Mahoning1405173
Summit1380172
Butler86229
Columbiana73951
Stark71691
Lorain67259
Montgomery65117
Trumbull56248
Belmont41912
Warren35920
Miami35530
Tuscarawas3393
Ashtabula33034
Medina32823
Portage32257
Delaware32013
Lake30212
Wood28546
Geauga27732
Wayne26650
Fairfield2586
Clark2526
Licking23010
Allen21232
Clermont2065
Mercer2037
Richland1973
Erie16711
Darke16721
Madison1527
Washington11819
Crawford1104
Morrow1051
Greene1015
Ottawa9513
Putnam9014
Monroe7712
Sandusky7311
Auglaize713
Hocking694
Ross682
Jefferson672
Huron561
Williams541
Union511
Muskingum500
Hancock501
Hardin450
Clinton430
Fayette400
Shelby403
Wyandot392
Fulton390
Coshocton380
Logan370
Preble351
Guernsey340
Defiance332
Holmes321
Carroll303
Lawrence300
Brown281
Champaign271
Knox241
Highland231
Ashland200
Seneca202
Vinton192
Perry181
Athens181
Henry150
Scioto150
Paulding140
Jackson130
Harrison100
Adams91
Gallia71
Van Wert60
Meigs60
Pike60
Noble60
Morgan50
Unassigned00
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