CHICAGO — If anyone can see the pandemic from many angles, Kate Merrill’s focus is likely spot-on.
Kate is the owner of Edge of Sweetness Bakery in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood, a small business deeply impacted by COVID-19.
“We were actually going pretty strong at the beginning of this year,” Merrill said. “It’s so difficult to watch and be a part of.“
When the governor issued his stay-at-home order, he also issued a call to action for all former physicians, nurses, physicians assistants and other medical professionals to come back and “join the fight” against COVID-19.
As former trauma ICU nurse at Mt. Sinai Hospital on Chicago’s West Side, Kate was in a unique position to answer the call. She gave up that life to open her dream business, but decided to return.
“I said, ‘if you guys need me, let me know,’” she said.
So for now, her focus is to help treat those coming in for care. While she’s back in nursing temporarily, she’s staying away from the bakery for safety, allowing her small staff to carry the load in the kitchen in what’s become a once-a-week pick up operation.
“I knew I’d be working with COVID patients so I didn’t want to bring that back to the bakery…so I knew I would have to stop working inside the bakery, in order to work inside the hospital,” she said.
Back in the hospital, she said it’s hard to explain what it’s like to work in the midst of a pandemic.
“Until you experience it, you don’t know what it’s like.. it’s insane,” Kate said. “There’s a lot of death going on, there’s a lot of very sick people, a lot of families severely affected by multiple people getting it and passing away.”
It’s adapting to the times in a time of need, but as a healthcare worker and a small business owner Kate, hopes times will move closer to normal soon. Then she can get back to the business where her heart truly lies.