Former GVSU standout athlete works COVID-19 front lines


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As a former two-sport athlete at Grand Valley State University, Briauna Taylor is accustomed to facing pressure.

And the experience came in handy when the COVID-19 pandemic hit because like every other nurse on the front lines, she faced a lot of pressure.

If you watched her compete at Grand Valley, you knew there was something special about Taylor. She was All-GLIAC in softball and basketball.

At commencement in 2017, she shared the stage with her twin sister Brittney and delivered the message from the alumni.

The Taylor sisters are both enjoying successful nursing careers — Brittney at the Stanford emergency room in California and Briauna here in Grand Rapids.

But when the coronavirus crisis hit Detroit, Briauna Taylor ran to the front lines.

“When I was younger, I spent the majority of my early childhood living in Detroit. And I was afforded the opportunity by my parents, as we call it, to see the other side,” she said. “So when the need in Detroit came up, I know people personally that work down there, I know how short they were, especially in nurses. I kind of said, you know, I know I am a young adult. And I know I don’t have risks. If I don’t go, who goes? And I need to go.”

So she went. Briauna Taylor worked in five different ERs.

“It was something I’ve never seen before. Everybody that walked into the door was COVID positive or suspected of having COVID. It was a high level of stress,” Briauna Taylor said. “But at the end of the day, ER nursing is ER nursing, right? You assess the patient as quickly as possible. You stabilize the patient.”

But before long, Briauna Taylor was the patient after contracted the virus. She had mild symptoms, but it knocked her out for a week and a half, and she lost her sense of taste and smell.

“It’s the strangest thing imaginable. Hopefully having it, I will be able to connect with the patient a little bit more. And two, it’s hard to say this, but it allowed me to be less stressed at work because when you work in the ERs, in the back of your head, it’s like OK, if I get this, what is it going to be like? What is this disease like? I’m around the disease 24/7 in the ER. Now that I’ve had it, I’m kind of ready to go back to work,” she said.

As Briauna Taylor goes back to work to treat COVID-19 patients, she’s staying ready in case another spike hits as Michigan slowly gets back to work.

“I understand there is a need to open up. I think a lot of industries are doing it the right way. But I also think there is a lot of education that needs to happen in terms of educating the public as to why social distancing is important, why it is important to wear a mask. It’s about kindness to other people, not necessarily about yourself,” she said. “When I see things opening, I know the economy needs a boost, but then I see crowds together, and it definitely makes me anxious because working in the ER, I don’t want to see another spike.”

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