TAMPA, Fla. — The pandemic has taken a toll on our frontline healthcare workers. A trio of Tampa nurses found a way to bond as a work family and as a team through preparation for a triathlon relay this weekend.
Jaime Lillo, Jayce Elliott, and Tina Geiger have felt the stress of the pandemic firsthand.
“We came together as a family. That was what got us through,” Lillo said. “The people that we work with became family.”
“I think it’s probably the hardest period of time most of us have ever had as nurses,” Geiger said.
They’re all nurses at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa working in a COVID ICU. They’ve bonded as a work team throughout the pandemic and will soon take the meaning of the word “team” to another level.
“It’s a relay,” Elliott said. “It’s a swim, bike, run, so Jaime will be swimming, Tina will be biking, and I’ll be running.”
This weekend, they’ll compete in the St. Anthony’s Triathlon Olympic Relay. It’s a goal they’ve all helped each other reach.
“If I swam a mile, I’d message everybody and let them know, and Jayce was keeping us up on her runs, and Tina would let us know I went to the YMCA today and did the bike,” Lillo said.
The preparation for race weekend has also been a way for the trio to connect while escaping stress, even for a moment.
“Everything else goes away for the hour that you’re swimming. You don’t have to think about anything except your next stroke,” Lillo said.
The Olympic Relay is scheduled for Sunday, May 1. BayCare says the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the summer 2021 resurgence of the virus caused the cancellation of the 2020 and 2021 triathlons.
The nurses explained they were ready to have fun this weekend while accomplishing their goal.
“It’s a hard thing like what we’ve done, and we keep pushing and keep going,” Lillo said. “Sometimes, there’s hard things that it would be easier to not do, and if you have people that support you and friends along the way that push you to be better, then you can do hard things.”