The COVID-19, CORONAVIRUS, pandemic has changed the lives of almost everyone around the world. Many individuals have lost their jobs and some are losing family members. Children are out of school. Graduations and ceremonies are cancelled. Funerals are held via live stream. And mothers are forced to give birth without family at the bedside.
In a previous blog post, I talked about the Coronavirus and the importance of preventing the spread of the virus. Since then, there has been a wide increase in cases in the U.S.
During this time, healthcare workers, including myself, are scared, anxious, and worried about what the next weeks and months may bring. Some are not able to see their families or be around their children. Some are deploying to go to NYC and other high rate cities to help save the lives of the COVID patients. Others are forced to stay home and not work because of being immunosuppressed and at higher risk of catching the virus.
COVID-19, WE ARE NOT OK!
Many citizens are not aware of what is happening behind the walls of the hospitals. These patients are intubated, sedated, and on CRRT and ECMO machines to save their lives while their heart, lungs, and kidneys are all failing at one time. On the other hand you have cases that are mild where the patients are self proning (lying on their stomachs) to improve their lung functions while on lower oxygen supply like nasal cannulas and non-rebreathers.
What is happening behind the hospitals' walls?:
Facilities are requiring nurses to cross train as ICU nurses based on the suspected increase in COVID-19 patient population.
There are no elective surgeries being performed unless they are emergent. This is leaving OR, Pre-Op and PACU staff to be without jobs or floated to other areas of the hospital.
There is a decrease of patients with other disorders being admitted to hospitals so some units have low census. With this, staff are forced to use their personal PTO (paid time off) after being cancelled for multiple shifts each week.
PPE (personal protective equipment) like gloves, masks, and gowns are scarce and are being reused for days and even weeks. Some facilities are providing brown paper bags for staff to place their masks in to preserve them for another shift. They are being told that they have to keep theses masks until they are soiled.
Staff are wearing masks (surgical or N95 masks) for 13+ hours causing us to have sore ears, skin breakdown, and permanent marks on our faces. Someone has come up with an idea to have headbands with buttons on them to loop the masks around. Thankfully there individuals and organizations offering these headbands to nurses and other staff.
We are being overworked and underpayed. Many facilities refuse to pay their staff members crisis pay when the entire world is in a crisis. And when the crisis pays begins, it is when the state has a large need for help and has majority COVID-19 patients in the population, like NYC and New Orleans!
How are nurses and other healthcare staff feeling during the time of the COVID- 19 pandemic?
On my instagram story I asked nurses and healthcare workers to give their insight on how they feel and what is happening in their hospitals. Here are their responses:
"We are not allowing any visitors except parents to come in to see the babies, but we had a mom come in yesterday that had symptoms. No one knew that she had symptoms at first, but she had a fever and funny chest x-ray. The whole pod had to go home."
"We have to put our masks in a paper bag. The job did not provide our nurse assistant manager bought them for the staff. And to make matters worse, our nurse manager is stuck in Mexico because they closed the borders. They are doing temperature checks before each shift."
"We are not allowed to wear masks unless the patient is on isolation. I work in the ED where people could expose others."
"We had to fight for masks during my last shift with administration. It's ridiculous!"
"They locked up all the PPE supplies so we have to ask for it on a need be basis"
"Most of our patients haven't been tested who actually show true symptoms. I am stressed. I've spent more time trying to save the PPE we have left that hasn't been stolen."
My message to you all is to be safe! Remain in your homes! Find things to do around your homes to flatten the curve! Facetime your family and friends as much as you can! Send encouraging words to the frontline workers and show them that you care! It is a hard time for everyone right now! Things will get better over time as long as everyone follow the orders to stay home! "THIS TOO SHALL PASS!!"