Pacific PA grad on frontlines of pandemic fight
Tatiana Mudrenko ’19, cross-trained for the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly lost her father to the virus.
For Tatiana Mudrenko ’19, the COVID-19 pandemic has not only brought change to her professional life but to her personal life, as well.
Mudrenko has served as a physicians assistant in general surgery at a Sacramento-area hospital for the past year after earning her Master of Physician Assistant Studies at University of the Pacific. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, all elective and non-urgent surgical procedures were canceled or postponed. To prepare for a potential surge in COVID-19 patients, she cross-trained and worked for the COVID-19 Results Clinic.
“This pandemic has provided an enriching professional experience for me, one that I will value the rest of my life,” Mudrenko said. “However, I am emotionally exhausted and unfortunately I have seen firsthand how scary this virus can be.”
During the beginning of the pandemic, Mudrenko’s father Pavel Condriuc, who does not speak English, was diagnosed with COVID-19 and had to be hospitalized. Her mother, Galina, was home by herself in self-quarantine due to her exposure and the hospital did not allow visitors, which meant she was unable to offer emotional or physical support to either of her parents during their time of need.
“Being in health care and working for the COVID clinic I knew what my father’s diagnosis could mean for him,” recalled Mudrenko. “The times that he was able to speak to us over the phone, I could hear fear in his voice as he was gasping for air. I was terrified we might never see or hug each other again.”
Fortunately, her father recovered and was discharged from the hospital. But it was a sober reminder of how deadly the COVID-19 virus can be and the importance of the shelter-at-home order.
Currently, for Mudrenko working at the hospital has become a kind of “sanctuary” from the reality of the virus she experienced at home. The medical knowledge and clinical skills she gained at Pacific have professionally prepared her for this moment.
“I felt adequately prepared and needed very little guidance during my training for the surge,” Mudrenko said. “Graduating from a program that modeled leadership and service made it easy for me to take on the extra load and help with the current crisis.”
However, the biggest challenge for Mudrenko has been the sacrifices she has needed to make at home. Because of the amount of potential exposure she receives at work, she has had to isolate herself from her loved ones. She has needed to be creative in finding ways to interact with her 3- and 10-year-old children while maintaining a safe distance. They implemented air hugs and have pretended to be superheroes saving the world by wearing cloth masks while at home.
“It is very hard to explain to my 10- and 3-year-old children why I have to keep my distance from them,” Mudrenko. “I can’t hug them or read them stories while snuggled in bed. However, having experienced COVID-19 so close to home, I need to continue to make these tough decisions in order to keep them safe.”
Despite all the sacrifices, Mudrenko has found working on the front lines during the pandemic a rewarding experience. She is currently working with her former Pacific professors to write a case report and literature review from cases she has been personally involved with. Her hope is to share her experience and increase the amount of COVID-19 research available.
“This experience has made me a stronger and more compassionate health care provider,” Mudrenko said. “Every individual has a crucial role in battling COVID-19 and only together we can win.”