Amid COVID-19 pandemic, nurse siblings care for patients, look to each other for support

Fellow nurses Megan Clemence (right) and her sister Kristen Clark (left) pose for a photo after Kristen administered Megan’s COVID-19 vaccine.

For sisters Megan Clemence and Kristen Clark, having similar careers in nursing has always been a blessing.

“A lot of people in our family work in the medical field, which is nice,” said Megan.  “With Kristen, we talk regularly and support each other.  We have a greater understanding of the challenges of nursing and what each may be going through.”

Megan, a nurse practitioner with Clarkston Internal Medicine, rounds regularly inside St. Joseph Mercy Oakland to check in on her patients, including many on units managed by Kristen.

Kristen, a nurse manager on 5S and 4G, agrees that having a sibling work in the same hospital is a unique circumstance not many get to enjoy. 

“Knowing Megan is here, close by, gives me strength,” says Kristen.  “It’s really cool to have someone to speak with, and that can listen.  My sister understands what I’m taking about because she has similar feelings and experiences.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Michigan in March of 2020, Megan and Kristen came to rely on each even more.

“In the beginning of the pandemic we each experienced increased anxiety and fear of the unknown, but we found strength in each other,” said Megan.  “As things have evolved, we both find that the safety protocols and processes in place make us feel much more at ease.  We know our patients are safe, we know we are safe, and that has given us each the peace of mind needed to focus on our jobs.”

When the vaccine became available to health care workers in late December, Megan and Kristen were among the first to volunteer to get it. 

“We talked about it at length but, in the end, it really wasn’t a difficult decision for either of us,” said Kristen.  “The vaccine has been thoroughly tested by medical experts and is needed to help bring the pandemic under control.  We both recommend the vaccine to friends and family, and when it becomes available we hope they all sign up to get it.”

Kristen, who received her COVID-19 vaccination first, was asked to staff one of St. Joe’s Oakland’s earliest vaccine clinics.  Fate would have it that these two sisters would be brought together once again, this time with Megan as the patient, and Kristen the nurse administering her vaccine.

“I trust my sister,” said Megan.  “We both believe in the vaccine and she would never have vaccinated me if we didn’t both wholeheartedly believe it was the right thing to do for each other and our family.  Kristen and I have been through this experience together, as sisters, and I love her with all my heart.  So it was nice for her to have been the one to administer my shot.”

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