March 25, 2022

'Still in disbelief that I experienced and lived through this'

ICU nurse alumna Mia Torres Groves reflects on working through COVID pandemic
Mia Torres Groves
Mia Torres Groves donning PPE Leah Hennel, AHS

Mia Torres Groves’ career as a critical care RN took off quickly, in her final focus as a nursing student. She would travel to isolated northern communities for a while, where she performed large-scale medevacs as a flight nurse, before returning to Calgary hospitals as a reprieve — only to be faced with the COVID-19 pandemic soon after. 

Now as a master’s student juggling an ICU position during a health crisis that grinds on, Torres Groves, BN'15, has been open about the difficulties she’s endured. At a virtual meeting of nurses and students held one full year into the pandemic, she touched on her personal experience and shared a series of pictures that captured a glimpse of her life in the ICU, including the one shown above and others below.

Torres Groves during a patient lift

Torres Groves during a patient lift

Leah Hennel, AHS

Group lift, photo by Leah Hennel, AHS

Healthcare workers do a group lift on the ICU.

Leah Hennel, AHS

This is the message she attached to the photographs, sent on March 24, 2021: 

Pictures worth a thousand words 

“Hi everyone, Mia here. I'm an ICU RN at the PLC ICU. Just thought I'd share something visual with you all and hope it resonates something emotional and powerful, as it did with me. Attached are some of the living photo-documents of the COVID pandemic in real time. I've been fortunate to have photojournalists come and document the experience along the way.  

“I hope this can shed some light on the lived experience many health-care providers are going through, and hopefully be able to look back at it and say we lived and got through it. You'll see a glimpse of the double occupancy in single-patient rooms, the amount of staff required to prone patients and the emotional human connections.” 

Torres Groves prepping patient, photo by Leah Hennel, AHS

Torres Groves prepping patient with colleagues.

Leah Hennel, AHS

One year later, Torres Groves reflected on that message and how far she has come since then. She responded on March 2, 2022 writing: 

I look back at these photos over the last year, and what I commented accompanying them, with many mixed emotions. Still in disbelief that I experienced and lived through this, and proud that I got through this.

"I have optimism and high hopes for the future, and am grateful to have had a genuine and amazing team that worked tirelessly day and night, continued to show up no matter how hard it got, and gave their best no matter the trials and tribulations.  

"It was a dark and cloudy time, it was not met without trials to my physical and mental well-being, and will continue to have lasting lifelong impacts on life in general. I think the aim of post-pandemic life will involve learning how to attribute and integrate these new impacts into life, and to take what was learned during this time and apply it to the future.”