BATON ROUGE, LA (BR-PROUD) – As the Chief Nursing Officer at Baton Rouge General, she is on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, but this isn’t the first time she stepped up during a disaster.
“I wake up every day saying this is where I’m going. We’re going to make a difference.”
That is the motto Monica Nijoka lives by. She’s been a registered nurse for over 40 years, and is currently the Chief Nursing Officer at Baton Rouge General.
“Someone asked me are you tired, and I said no. I wake up everyday energized,” said Nijoka.
No matter what the day brings, she always puts her best foot forward.
“I am a go-to person. I grew up with 10 brothers and five sisters; I can make a decision on a dime,” said Nijoka.
It’s a skill that came in handy during Hurricane Katrina.
“During Hurricane Katrina we opened up an empty K-Mart facility and turned it into a hospital over night. That was quite different because we knew eventually everyone would go back home when the waters went down,” said Nijoka.
She’s seen her fair share of disasters, but never imagined she’s be treating patients during a global pandemic.
“It’s very different. I never thought I’d see something like this in my nursing career. And we don’t know when it’s going to end. That’s the difference. We don’t know when it’s going to end,” said Nijoka.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak her days look a bit different.
“We’re running a mash hospital, that’s what we’re running, because we don’t know what’s going to roll in the doors,” she said.
But despite the uncertainty, she’s still eager to show up and fight for her patients.
“What makes me want to come to work in the morning? To fight this thing! And have us be successful in recovering this community, and the state and the country to where it used to be.”
As we navigate these unprecedented times, Nijoka says she and her team will be there ready to work.
“We will get through it. We will carry that torch, and hopefully we will have just one more person that does great and can be discharged home.”