UNSUNG HEROES 2022
Commitment to care
Director of Nursing ’ s dedication to the community has helped him persevere through the pandemic
BY JARROD MILLS
Eric Willis considers patient care his passion .
At just 31 years old , Willis has already served more than a third of his life at Baptist Health Corbin , acting in various roles throughout his tenure . Starting off as a certified nursing assistant ( CNA ) directly out of high school , Willis would eventually go on to hold the titles of ward clerk , ER Tech , telemetry nurse , surgery nurse , ICU nurse and house supervisor before recently accepting his current position as Director of Nursing of the hospital ’ s Intensive Care and Progressive Care units .
“ I got a job at the hospital when I was 18 and realized I absolutely loved it , from the time of being a nurse aide all the way up to being an RN ,” Willis said .
That spark to care for others was fostered in Willis at a young age , he says . He can recall growing up and hearing stories from family members who had served as healthcare providers . Willis said he connected with those stories being shared and knew from an early age what he wanted to do .
As a result , Willis got to working on his post-high school career early , taking college courses while still an upperclassman at Whitley County High School . He would go on to earn his ADN from Southeast Community Technical College and his bachelor ’ s degree from Union College . The Williamsburg native still calls the city home with his wife and their newborn child .
With a 13-year career in the medical field , Willis has seen a lot come through
With a 13-year career in the medical field , Willis has seen a lot come through the hospital ’ s doors . But nothing compares to the massive challenge Willis , and everyone for that matter , faced when the world was introduced to COVID-19 in late 2019 / early 2020 . | Photo contributed
the hospital ’ s doors . But nothing compares to the massive challenge Willis , and everyone for that matter , faced when the world was introduced to COVID-19 in late 2019 / early 2020 .
“ We knew that COVID was coming . We knew a pandemic was on the rise ,” Willis said in reference to the days leading up to the first COVID patient being admitted to Baptist Health Corbin . Willis was serving as a staff nurse when Baptist received its first patient with COVID precautions . He can remember he and his fellow staff members feeling nervous and anxious , but recalls his director staying past her shift , ensuring those assisting the patient knew exactly what they were doing , had the resources they needed and followed protocols appropriately .
“ I have probably never felt a sense of fear the way I did when I realized I was