Bonnie (Briel) Burnette ('83): Maintain Caution

Like many of the healthcare professionals today, Bonnie (Briel) Burnette (Class of 1983) agrees: the peak has not yet hit the state of Georgia. 

“We are tired and scared and understaffed,” says Bonnie, a registered nurse with AdventHealth Gordon Hospital in Calhoun, Ga. “STAY HOME! And, please, pray for us as healthcare workers to stay safe and to be able to keep our families unaffected.”

Bonnie’s family is large and service-minded. Married to husband Dennis, she describes her family as a "Brady Bunch" with six kids: Kyle 26, Kaci 25, Chad 24, Sean and Jacob 20, and Gracie 13. They are a very proud Navy family – Dennis is a veteran, and Kyle and Jacob are active duty. 

Bonnie and Dennis (who is also considered an essential employee) are still working every day while trying to protect daughter Gracie, who is distance learning at home.

“It’s a lot to balance and protect our family right now,” Bonnie says. “And it’s discouraging to see so many people not taking this situation seriously.” 

On the flip side, Bonnie is encouraged by how the community has come together to support healthcare professionals and appreciates that “there are people who are staying safely in their cars but praying for us. Honking their horns and flashing their lights at shift change times. It means a lot.”

Though her specialty is wound care, right now all of Bonnie’s work efforts are centered around COVID-19. And, for this self-proclaimed science geek, thanks in large part to legendary instructors, Harry Guckert and Debbie Ritchie (both retired Walker teachers), Bonnie knows that there are still difficult days ahead. 

“It’s hard to keep hearing that, week after week, I know. And people want to think: ‘well, if I’m not sick yet I probably won’t get sick.’ But that’s just not true,” she says.

Bonnie urges everyone to continue to keep social distancing and maintaining personal hygiene. 

“Our Walker family will be celebrating the 40th reunion of our first graduating class next year. We don’t want to lose any more Wolverines than have already gone before us,” she says. “We must stay committed to protecting ourselves, our healthcare workers, our families – young and old.”
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