Sean Cain – Unsung Hero

Sean Cain, a registered nurse for Jefferson Hospital near Pittsburgh, PA, is being recognized as an Unsung Hero by the West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) for his work during the pandemic.

Sean works in the hospital's cardiac catheterization lab, where he assists with a variety of procedures. This can involve working side-by-side with the cardiologist or performing a level of sedation that requires him to maintain the patient's airway, monitor vital signs and give necessary medications.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Sean has seen an increase in seriously ill COVID-19 patients with complications or side effects, such as blood clots that flow to the heart, that require procedures in the cardiac catheterization lab.

In his spare time, Sean has volunteered to help in the hospital's intensive care unit (ICU) treating COVID-19 patients and others who are critically ill.

At his job, Sean must take many safety precautions. If he is dealing with a patient that has COVID-19 or could potentially have the virus, Sean prefers to wear an industrial N-100 mask, in addition to his other personal protective equipment (PPE) that literally covers him from head to toe.

While safety protocols are a required part of his job, Sean has additional concerns due to his personal health circumstances.

Diagnosed with late-onset Type 1 diabetes at the age of 18, Sean has put great effort into managing his blood sugar levels and maintaining his health.

Sean got sick during his senior year at Elkins High School. He had always been very active in sports, and he wanted to finish out the football season before dealing with his health problems. He graduated in 2013 and went on to attend West Virginia Wesleyan College.

After enrolling in college, Sean became aware of DRS, and he quickly applied for services. DRS provided financial assistance for him to complete his Bachelor of Nursing, which he earned in 2017, as well as support, encouragement and guidance as he adjusted to his diabetes diagnosis.

DRS Rehabilitation Counselor Donna Cain nominated Sean for the Unsung Heroes recognition. According to Ms. Cain, his compassion, empathy and patience make Sean an ideal nurse, but his humility, courage and generosity in helping others make him absolutely extraordinary.

Sean is appreciative of the services he received from DRS and of the recognition.

At his job, he tries to stay a step ahead of what is going on with his patients in order to keep them stable and be able to react quickly to any emergency situation. However, no matter how prepared he is, Sean feels that COVID complications can occur so quickly that they can be difficult to anticipate.

Some days are extremely mentally fatiguing for him. Sean likes to work out and play recreational sports in his free time, and he receives support from his girlfriend, his brother and his co-workers.

His real concern though is for the frontline medical workers who have had to deal with COVID on a constant basis. He knows those individuals are emotionally, mentally and physically drained, and he has nothing but respect for them and believes them to be the true heroes of the pandemic.

Sean really enjoys his work. His next big goal is to go back to school to become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), which takes three years to complete, but it's always been what he wanted to do.