Edgeville Buzz

Edge Of Sweetness Owner Puts Business On Pause During COVID-19 Crisis And Returns To Nursing

Kate Merrill

As business owners struggle to cope with the current COVID-19 crisis, they are searching for ways to survive while under the shutdown order. One Edgewater bakery owner however, has decided to step away from her store temporarily and return to her previous profession of 22 years as a nurse in order to help care for those struggling with the deadly virus.

When Edge of Sweetness (6034 N Broadway) opened a few years back, Kate Merrill took a gamble and followed her dreams to become a local business owner. She became an instant hit as a full service bakery and cafe that serves up homemade baked goods, coffees, and teas while also offering a commercial shared kitchen that food-related businesses can rent.

That success came to an abrupt halt once the COVID-19 took hold in the US leaving local storefronts closed, employees out of work, and owners scrambling to make ends meet. As the number of coronavirus cases and deaths rose daily, Merrill decided to take a break from the business and return to her previous profession as a nurse.

It was a decision that put Kate Merrill directly into a job that is now a very risky profession. In a detailed and emotional Edge of Sweetness Facebook post, she not only explained her motives but also gave a plea to the public to heed the precautions put out by health officials in the fight against the virus.

“To be honest I had no desire to return to nursing,” Merrill told EVB. “I am enjoying running my business and learning how to lead my team.  I knew it was the right thing to do because people needed help and I could provide that help.  Thats just who I am, if I live within my values I am okay with whatever happens.”

Her online post revealed a bit of her daily routine as a nurse on the frontlines at Chicago’s Mount Sinai Hospital. It gave an honest look into the institution and the critical work its employees perform every day.

Her words describe the isolated time that patients experience while in the ICU and the unbelievable toll the virus takes on their bodies. According to Merrill, ICU patients are usually on ventilators with multiple drips of life-saving medications. As the weakest under hospital care start to experience organ failure, procedures such as a daily dialysis to help the kidneys properly function are performed.

“This illness is unpredictable with a very quick decline and they go hard, not responding like they ‘typically’ should to treatment,” Merrill wrote in the Facebook post. “As frontline caregivers we witness this illness at its worst, we speak with the distraught families, comfort the patients and collaborate to do all we can. I empathize with everyone suffering with the novel Coronavirus, families, friends and patients alike, the psychological toll of the unknown makes it so much harder to handle.”

The medical staff gets a front seat view to the pain the patients and their families go through during the process. It is horrific scene that most of are sheltered from as we are forced to stay at home.

Healthcare workers are at a heightened risk of psychological distress as well according to the journal JAMA Network Open. The ever increasing number of COVID-19 cases, the overwhelming workload, and insufficient personal protective equipment and drugs, all can lead to psychological distress. Many in the medical field will experience depression, anxiety, insomnia, and distress during the crisis. The likelihood of these issues increases greatly among women.

The health risks to those on the frontline is unimaginable. However, the dedication of those medical professionals who continue to care for others during uncertain times is inspirational to say the least.

The purpose of Merrill’s letter is not to scare us but to show why the procedures in place are so dire at this time. She reminds us not to visit with anyone over the age of 60 or are immunocompromised (unless absolutely necessary), social distance, wear clean gloves and masks when needed, clean and sanitize, cover your mouth and nose, and reach out for help when needed.

“I wanted our community of customers to know why I was putting nursing in front of my business, which is my passion and my dream,” Merrill explained. “I was also terrified of potential effects of an outbreak in our neighborhood with so many long time residents here. Edgewater is a wonderfully supportive community and I didn’t want them to put themselves in danger in order to support me because they feared we would close.  I was there to support them and they were there to support me, the risk was too much.  I want people to stay healthy, keep safe and take precautions, it is just good practice.”

Merrill wants to remind the community that Edge of Sweetness is still performing weekly stock up sales and corporate and personal shipping. When not at the hospital, she is working remotely on growth strategies, providing leadership and mentoring her team of employees who have been able to come back part-time thanks to a PPP loan.

Merrill shared a quote with EVB from a friend, “this is a great time to be good.” From us to you, thanks for all your goodness Kate.

You can read her Facebook post here.

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