A Track Star Turned Healthcare Hero | VA West Palm Beach Health Care

From jumping over 3-foot-tall hurdles on the track field to jumping over hurdles on the West Palm Beach VA hospital floor, Patrina Allen, Intensive Care Unit Nurse (ICU) Manager, redefines endurance.

For eight years she remains by the side of Veterans during their most critical moments. Her passion to serve is one that stems from a special place – her bloodline. Growing up her mother was a nurse and her sister a service member in the U.S. Army; coupled together she knew her service to her country belonged nowhere else but with the Veterans Health Administration.

As once an athlete of the most challenging Olympic track and field division, little did she know years later how the one lap of ten-400-meter hurdles would support her to compete in today’s trial of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prior to her white coat days, her attire was performance running gear and track shoes. As an Olympic contestant in 2000 and 2004, her stamina laid more than in just her legs to glide over every hurdle in her path, it is also stored mentally to drive her home to the finish line.

The Olympic athlete says, “I was trained physically but also mentally for track and field. I was trained in mental toughness and how to mentally get over different obstacles without losing focus. This mindset stays with me and brings right over in my career.”

Her laser-focus trained by her coaches contributes to her now clinical heroic leadership. Amid uncertainty, the loss of lives, and the unknown of what is next, the ICU team looks to Nurse Manager, Ms. Allen, for nothing short of positive affirmation.

Her belief in medical care, goes beyond the traditional medicines, and leaps into the hurdle of emotional support. Her positive mindset is a gift she spreads from hospital room to hospital room as a friendly push to remind Veterans of the strength they hold to overpower the reason for their inpatient stay.

What she refers to as her ‘tunnel vision’ from her previous athletic years, is what she not only embraces in her VA service now, but as her coaches once did, she is too teaching to her team and Veterans.

She says, “The harder the challenge to more I focus on what I need to do.”

Although the finish line is now at the hands of her care to Veterans and no longer at the end of a lap, she still compares that unwavering feeling.

The Olympic contestant recalls, “When I would compete, my legs would be heavy and my mind depleted, but above all my mental strength brought me to another realm of a vision so narrow that never once failed to push me over the finish line. That same vision is what propels me to push for my team and Veterans fighting for their lives.”

Her contagious spirit and story are a reminder that hurdles may arise, but it is how you jump over each one that truly counts.

As famously said, she emphasizes, “I look at the glass half-full. When we have a positive mindset, we can turn things around and jump over the hurdles life places in front of us.”

A mindset so powerful with a passion to serve Veterans, it is only right to credit her for Veterans leaving the ICU stronger than they arrived.