BETHESDA, Md. — Lots of families have sacrificed on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis. But one local family has given more than many.
The five Carroll sisters, originally from Prince George's County, all went into nursing. Four of them are now working to save the lives of COVID-19 patients.
"It's like all of our lives, we've depended on each other," Ashly Carroll Malliarakis, a surgical nurse at Reston Hospital Center, said.
Gina Carroll Russell leads the team of emergency room nurses at Southern Maryland Hospital. Courtney Carroll works in the ICU at a hospital in California. Kimberly Carroll Chumley is a labor and delivery nurse in Reston. Gina's twin, Tina, was a pediatric nurse at Children's National Medical Center, but she passed away from a heart condition 12 years ago.
The women said their parents inspired them to go into nursing to help other people.
"We grew up in a family with a mother and father whose careers were solely based on giving back, and giving back to complete strangers," Kimberly, the oldest of the sisters, said. "When you grow up in that environment, I think that nursing is not a choice. It is something that calls you."
When asked if she was afraid for her daughters, mother Cathy Carroll responded with gratitude.
"Looking at them all smiling and knowing right now they're all healthy and fine, I'm loving every minute," Cathy said on a Zoom call with all of them. "As my girls have said to me, 'Mother, you need to stop worrying, because this is our calling, and we will be there no matter what.'"
The nurses insist they are not afraid.
"I think there's solace in the fact that this is our time to shine, right?" Ashly said. "This is kind of what we were called to do. In the scariest moments of people's lives, we're the ones to tell them it's ok."
"Unfortunately, or fortunately, I have been that person that has held someone's hand as they take their last breath," Courtney said. "And I'm blessed to be the one that is able to be at their bedside so that they're not alone. Nobody should die alone."
Kimberly takes heart in delivering babies.
"I see signs of hope every day in the birth that happens, even among the women who test positive and are giving birth," she said. "And to see that that, that's hope."
"It's an honor to be a nurse, and I don't think I would do anything else," Gina said.
Her mom said if Tina was around today, she too would be on the front lines, saying, what all her daughters say, "I'm here and I am not afraid!"