Last July, a tearful Felicia Croft sat in her car after a long shift in the COVID-19 intensive care unit, and expressed her deep despair about watching young patients die of the virus.
"People are younger and sicker, and we're intubating and losing people that are my age and younger people with kids that are my kids' age that are never going to see their kids graduate. They're never gonna meet their grandkids," the nurse from Willis-Knighton Medical Center, in Louisiana, told ABC News at the time.
With vaccination rates lagging in Louisiana — fewer than 40% then — Croft said she was frustrated to see preventable deaths occurring.
“We have seen people [in the hospital] that have been vaccinated, but they usually go home to raise their kids, and to hug their husband or their wife. I can't explain the feeling of defeat. When you do everything you pour everything into a patient and it's not enough,” Croft explained.
Now, as the nation mourns the loss of 1 million lives to COVID-19, Croft shared her reflections on the milestone and the last two years, expressing her relief that fewer patients are dying of the virus at her hospital.
"Today, I am standing here, and I am doing an empty room, in our empty COVID Unit, at the hospital, which is really, really exciting," Croft said.
Reflecting on earlier experiences caring for a dear family friend, Croft described the pain of seeing people steadily deteriorate as they were intubated, and terribly sick with COVID-19.
As she spoke to the mother of her friend on the phone, Croft recalled feeling helpless as she was not able to truly comfort to his family.
"I remember his mom crying, and me not being able to go to her, and not being able to just love on and comfort somebody that I love, because we're trying to save another life. That was so difficult," Croft said.
And although at Willis-Knighton, the need for COVID-19 related care has slowed, Croft said she and her colleagues are still mourning the losses of all of the patients, friends, and family members that died of COVID-19.
"COVID has thankfully dwindled down, but we are still mourning losses, and seeing the effects of just how it's changed a lot of people, a lot of people's long-term health, a lot of people's outlook and it's just very humbling. It's been a very humbling experience," Croft said.