LUBBOCK, Texas – Covenant Health will bid farewell this week to a nurse who has worked there for over 40 years.

Karen Baggerly, Regional Chief Nursing Executive at Covenant Health, said she started nursing in the 1970s. She said before then, nursing wasn’t a career she had considered.

“I’ve always loved the sciences and biology, and so I started started out at Texas Tech in microbiology and realized that probably didn’t have enough human interaction for me behind a microscope and and in a laboratory all day,” said Baggerly.

Baggerly said throughout the past four decades, the health care industry has seen a number of health practices evolve to best protect the health of patients.

“Many of the infection prevention practices were had still not really been developed,” said Baggerly, “We didn’t wear gloves on a regular basis [and] we had a lot of autonomy in nursing as to how we could practice.”

Baggerly said that one of the biggest health challenges that impacted nurse practices was the HIV/AIDs epidemic.

“I think many of the infection prevention practices that we know now were were developed really during that time,” said Baggerly, “Certainly even enhanced when we had the H1N1 flu epidemic and then further advanced when Ebola had hit the news.”

Baggerly said in addition to HIV/AIDs, H1N1 Flu and Ebola — COVID-19 has been one of the biggest challenges the world has faced.

“I don’t know that there’s ever been a time when nursing has has felt more discouraged, really,” she said, “about the lack of treatment for these patients and had to experience the extreme extreme illness and the death and dying that we’ve seen in the last two years.”

Despite all the challenges brought by nursing, Baggerly said working in health care brings a sense of fulfillment and purpose.

“It has certainly been a privilege to to be here at Covenant and to to work with the fantastic coworkers and to care for [the] community of Lubbock, Texas — So thank you,” said Baggerly.