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IU Health nurse gets free car to honor her work on front lines

WESTFIELD, Ind. (WISH) — An IU Health nurse received a big surprise on Friday: a new car from Tom Roush Mazda in Westfield.

Rachel Elliott is a nurse working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic at IU Health. That’s where she has seen the devastating impact the virus has on patients and their families.

Elliott won the car as part of a nationwide competition where community members can nominate local heroes to receive a free car.

“The patients don’t have family available to them in the hospital,” said Elliott. “Most of the time, the nurse is the one that spends hours on end with them in the room. You have to try and get to know that person even if they can’t speak to you. So calling the family, FaceTiming them trying to learn about that patient. If that patient deteriorates to the point, they pass away, if they don’t have that family support, it’s really difficult.”

Working long hours with sick patients forced her to make sacrifices like not spending time with family members, including her grandpa, who passed away in June.

“I didn’t want to get him sick,” said Elliott. “Once we found out he was dying, I was able to spend time with him in his last days.”

Now the new car has given her a more positive reason to remember 2020.

“When I found out, I was in shock,” said Elliott. “I thought this could never happen to me.”

Elliott was selected for the prize for going above and beyond her job to provide care and support for her patients. She was nominated by her best friend, Eric Griffin. He said she’s the true definition of a hero.

“I can’t imagine having to be on the front lines of that reality every day,” said Griffin. “Some of us have the luxury to stay in our homes, not putting ourselves at risk, and she does that every day. I know she’s very proud to do that.”

But she said working the front lines is a team effort and she hopes others feel honored for the work they’re doing as well. She can’t wait to drive around town in her new car.

“This year has been challenging because the whole world has been dealing with this pandemic. I feel like winning this prize gives me something to look forward to on my days off,” said Elliott.