Stories from the Frontline: New Nurse Navigates a COVID-19 World

Kate Treanor ’14 was halfway through her first undergraduate degree as an English Literature major at Holy Cross College when her father became sick and hospitalized from a rare form of pneumonia. After witnessing the life-saving care the medical team and nurses from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston performed, Treanor changed career paths to become a nurse.

“That experience was very inspiring for me, especially having observed the work the nursing staff provided for my father, which made all the difference,” said Treanor. “I am so glad I made the decision to pursue nursing.”

In December, Treanor graduated from Northeastern University’s accelerated 16-month nursing program and, while in school, started working as a registered nurse at McLean, a psychiatric hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts.

Then COVID-19 started to spread. Now, Treanor and her friends in nursing are worried about their patients and themselves because in their job they can’t self-quarantine. Treanor, however, is guided by the words of Cornelia Connelly, founder of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus: “Actions, not words.” So, she continues to work.

“I’m used to working with patients with severe anxiety and depression as well as those with severe past traumatic experiences, but it has truly been an added struggle for them with the fear of COVID-19,” Treanor said. “My coworkers and I do our best to put our own anxieties aside, which is hard, in order to brighten someone’s day and help our patients become stable enough to safely return home.”

Next week, Treanor will start a new job – one that was planned well before COVID-19 hit – as a hematology/oncology nurse at Lahey Hospital and Medical Center in Burlington, Massachusetts. Here, while most of her state is quarantined, Treanor will receive hands-on experience on a medical surgical oncology floor with high risk, immunocompromised patients.

“Every hospital is on the lookout for patients or staff who may be exhibiting signs and symptoms or who may have been exposed to this horrible virus,” said Treanor, who knows many people, personally and professionally, whose lives have been significantly altered by COVID-19.

However, through all the sadness and uncertainty that this pandemic has brought, Treanor looks on the bright side.

“I have definitely felt a sense of community between all health care workers pushing through this horrible time and trying to get to the other side of the curve,” she said.

Stories from the Frontline is a signature Oak Knoll editorial feature that aims to highlight all of the hardworking alumnae/i of Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child who are out on the frontlines of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. These alumnae/i may be in the medical, law enforcement, and other emergency service fields. Do you know someone we should talk to? Email

Ali Good and Laura Sumas Barry helping frontline workers through their Village Supermarkets donation program.