While many are staying away from others and learning to social distance in the world as it is currently known,  one Elsberry woman is on the front lines fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.  


Paula Pratt-Riefle's graduation picture from St. Mary's School of Nursing on May 14, 1979.

Paula Riefle has been a nurse for 41 years and has spent time in many different areas of nursing.  She has experience in home health care, emergency room services,  medical and surgery and orthopedics, but for the last six years Riefle has been a nurse in the cardiac telemetry unit at St. Joseph’s West in Lake St. Louis.  

In light of the recent crisis, her floor has been deemed the COVID unit.  In all her years of nursing she is echoing the thought  of all medical professionals. 

“I have never seen a situation like this we are in now and we are learning each and every day.”  

When Riefle reports to work she has daily briefings and emails to get caught up on.  

“This is new to everyone so updates are crucial,” she added.

Unique to her situation is that she was set to retire at the end of April, but that has all been put on hold for now.  

“I work with younger nurses and I just can’t leave those babies at a time like this.”  

Needless to say the happiest person that she was postponing her retirement was from her supervisor, which warranted a huge hug.

Riefle is no stranger to putting herself aside to take care of others, not only on the job but at home also.  

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Paula Pratt-Riefle (top left) and her co-workers taking a little time out of work to celebrate New Year's Eve.

While maintaining a job in a field that runs 24/7 she raised three daughters with her husband Allen.  In 2009 at the young age of 58 Allen passed away unexpectedly.  She has continued to help her daughters when needed, taking care of her father in his aging years until he passed and currently she takes care of her mother who lives across the street.

While it is unknown what twists and turns this crisis will take, there is one thing for sure, Riefle will be on the forefront until it is over.