Local ICU nurse gets the surprise of her life

A little bit of love can go a long way

HOUSTON – Memorial Hermann ICU nurse Christie Purviance is no stranger to heartbreak. She spends her 15-hour shifts at work, caring for very sick patients. Earlier this spring in the COVID unit, nine out of ten patients put on ventilators didn’t make it.

As the pandemic numbers were dramatically rising, Purviance got a temporary rental apartment so she could go to work without fearing she might contract the virus and then bring it home to her family.

“My son Ashton was 7 months old when this all happened,” said Purviance. “We kind of as a family came to the agreement that I should just isolate.”

Her only contact with her husband and baby was by video chat on her smartphone.

Though the physical separation from her family was extremely tough, Purviance said she knew there was a very important reason for it.

“Since becoming a mother and being able to look at these patients, not as just a patient but (as) someone’s son, ‘this is someone’s daughter.’ It really helped me be more compassionate, I think,” she said. “Knowing that they couldn’t have their family there, it was my job to step up and be that support for them not just as their nurse but as their cheerleader.”

The good karma came back in a big way. Christie’s sister, Heather, had nominated Purviance when Mazda put out the nationwide call for deserving “heroes” to be nominated and win a brand new car. Fifty heroes would be selected, one from each state. Purviance was selected as the winner from Texas.

“I was just overwhelmed with joy and disbelief,” said Purviance. “I was completely blown away.”

Purviance was quick to point out that she was just doing her job with love, just as countless other caregivers and providers do every single day.

Purviance shared “I’m just like any other nurse. I don’t see myself as better or more deserving than anyone else I work with. All the nurses I work with are – you know we all stepped up, it wasn’t just me.”

As the pandemic rages on despite promising news of an effective vaccine, the ICU nurse hopes people will take their health – and the health of their loved ones – seriously.

“This whole pandemic is devastating and people can’t really see how bad it is in the hospital,” she said.

In the meantime, she’s still fighting long hours each day while hoping and praying for her patients -- and for the families who have lost loved ones to COVID.

“Even if it’s just a small percentage it’s still someone’s family that’s affected,” said the ICU nurse.

When Purviance is able to take a break from her job, she and her husband plan to take a road trip in their brand new Mazda. It will no doubt serve as a shining reminder that a little bit of love can go a long way.

To learn more about the Mazda Heroes campaign, click here.

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