Piedmont Profile: Sharon Filler, ICU nurse

Although Filler spends her days in hospitals, she has stern advice for Piedmonters about how to stay out of them: This virus is a killer. Continue to wear a mask, practice social distancing, strict hand hygiene; avoid indoor crowds.

Piedmont resident Sharon Filler has been an ICU nurse for 34 years and currently works as a Neuro Trauma ICU nurse at Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, where she’s been for 15 years. She does community outreach around trauma and strokes and most recently COVID-19. Her candid observations about what she sees in hospital ERs make her an in-demand speaker around town.

Describe your work and what drew you to the medical field.

Filler comes from a long line of nurses.

I grew up on a horse farm in Southern Ireland. I was always regulated to the medical side of things, primarily  birthing animals and tending to the sick. My four aunts were British Army nurses and I was fascinated by their stories working on the frontline during World War II. One of my aunts went on to be the Matron of the British Army hospital in Poona India. They all continued to do amazing philanthropy work in South East Asia and Africa on retirement. I went to nursing school at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin Ireland ( University of Dublin). It was extremely strict, run by the Sisters of Charity. We had an amazing education and I attribute my rigid code of ethics to this amazing nursing order of nuns.

What has work been like since the shutdown in mid-March?

I would say very difficult in general. We were much luckier than other states in so far as the early sheltering in place gave us time to adapt to our new work environment. It gave the hospitals/ state time to increase PPE stock. We were still lacking some supplies like helmets that we use for high risk procedures like intubation but then community programs stepped up to make them. The patients in the ICU are extremely sick with COVID. Our management of them has improved considerably with feedback from New York and internationally.

Based on what you know, do local hospitals have (appear have?) the PPE equipment they need to deal with more cases?

The PPE that we use are designed for single use. We put on a fitted N95 at the beginning of our shift and wear it throughout the day. We can change it if it gets wet or soiled. We have PAPRS [face shields] for high risk procedures and enough ventilators for our ICU and overflow to step down. Feedback from other nurses in the area report a similar work environment. The caveat being, do we have enough ICU nurses to manage these critically ill patients in case another surge happens? Probably not.

What are some of the most useful things Piedmonters could be doing right now to support local medical workers?

Be extra kind. Work is extremely difficult. I am grateful to my friends who have cooked meals for me, the kindest act in the world. National Charity League has adopted my ICU and will cook us a meal on Sundays. We will get through this together!

Is there anything you want Piedmonters to know as they start to go out more?

Please err on the side of being extremely conservative, whatever the phase. This virus is a killer. Continue to wear a mask. Practice social distancing. Continue to practice strict hand hygiene. Support your local restaurants by ordering takeout. My family will certainly not eat in restaurants, attend events of any kind or attend gyms. These measures should be followed until a vaccine and effective outpatient drug regimen is in place.

The Filler family

How are you spending your time outside of work?

We have a hectic home life! My husband Andy is extremely busy working remotely. My son Patrick is a freshman at the University of Denver and has Zoom classes daily. Milo is a junior and just finished his AP exams. Lucy is a freshman at PHS. I spend a lot of time cooking. Thank God for the healing power of nature! I spend most of my days off walking, locally when the parks were closed but now in the regional parks. I am also reading a lot, currently The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel. I have a ton of continuing education hours to fulfill for my ICU credentials.

12 thoughts on “Piedmont Profile: Sharon Filler, ICU nurse

  1. Hi Sharon
    Thank you for all you do for your
    Community . I am sure you go beyond the call of duty and make those who you come in contact with
    Not so afraid .
    Thank you for your service and love of family .
    Sydney Brush

  2. Is m so proud of Sharon, and her ability to always rise to the occasion.

    The world needs more kindness.

    Please listen to her wise words and stay safe!

  3. We love you Sharon!! and Lucy!! Sharon, you have the biggest heart and the warmest smile, and we feel grateful that we can be one the cogs in the wheel that helps support your Eden ICU team and you via National Charity League. Stay well, stay strong. Your community is here for you, you lovely lady!

    • Kim,
      The biggest heart and spirit who has fed the ICU every Sunday for the last few weeks. I can never repay your kindness to my team❤️❤️❤️❤️

  4. Sharon: Your patients are so fortunate to have you care for them. It is a shame they cannot see your great smile through your mask but your great sense of humor must light their days when they are starting to get better. Thank you for all you do for your patients and our community. What a great role model you are for us. Love, Shirley

  5. That’s our Sharon. We are so happy she is part of our family. Grandma Ellen and grandpa Morey

  6. Sharon! You are a STAR professionally and personally… the BEST in the world. Piedmont is blessed to have you… and every patient you have ever looked after. Stay safe and well.
    Hugs from Houston

  7. Sharon is a treasure to our neighborhood and community. Thank you Exedra for letting us know more about her and THANK YOU to Sharon for all that you do for others, professionally and personally.

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