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Nakita Gibbs: A Hero Among Heroes

Friday, January 15, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about challenges healthcare systems could never have imagined. The logistics of patient care amid a pandemic, shortages of PPE, disrupted supply chains, furloughed staff, and so much more. Healthcare professionals are being pushed to their limits. While many are walking away from their healthcare careers, one frontline worker at St. Claire HealthCare, is ready to take her career to the next level.

Nakita Gibbs has become a celebrity in her hometown of Morehead, Kentucky, but while many know her name, they may not know her story. (If you’re not sure who she is, she’s the girl in scrubs and cowboy boots.)

When we sat down with Nakita and asked about her first job at St. Claire HealthCare, she proudly explained (with a big smile on her face) that she walked in and was hired on the spot. Nakita was offered a position as an environmental services assistant and gladly accepted. She had been trying to get a job as a certified nurse assistant (CNA) for a few years and was happy to get her foot in the door.

You don’t have to spend much time with Nakita to realize that she’s a hard-working young woman who’s determined to meet her goals in life. So it’s no surprise that it wasn’t long before she got the job she wanted. She was hired as a CNA in the emergency department and was finally able to do what she wanted to do the most … help people.

When the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic found its way to Eastern Kentucky, St. Claire HealthCare’s clinical leaders quickly set up a temporary drive-thru testing site to offer community testing. Nakita stepped away from the job she loved in the ED and took her place on the front line of the pandemic collecting specimens for COVID testing. The cold and often rainy days in March turned into the hazy days of summer, and the testing site moved from a temporary tailgate tent to a more permanent facility. All the while Nakita stayed on the front lines five days a week, doing her part to slow the spread of illness in the community where she was born and raised.

It wasn’t long before people began referring to Nakita as a superhero. When asked about her superpower, she jokingly said ‘If there’s one thing I’m good at in life, it's swabbing people's noses.’

Not only is Nakita now considered the local expert on nasal swabs (she’s personally collected thousands of test specimens), this single mom is also a full-time nursing student. In the midst of a global pandemic when many are giving up on their careers in healthcare, Nakita is more passionate than ever to take her career to the next level. She’s currently working toward her RN with future plans to pursue her BSN.

Nakita says she always knew she wanted to do work with patients, but ultimately, she’s doing it all to give her daughter, Stella (3), a better life. She lights up when talking about Stella saying ‘She is my absolute world.’ Stella can certainly be proud of her mom. Nakita’s hard work and dedication, and her commitment to St. Claire HealthCare’s mission of proclaiming God’s goodness through a healing ministry to the people of Eastern Kentucky has been unwavering. She is a true healthcare hero.

On behalf of everyone at St. Claire HealthCare and the communities we serve, thank you Nakita.