I am just a small piece of hay in the stack of medical personnel that is being affected by COVID-19.
So many are on the front lines of this horrible pandemic. I am not in the Emergency Department, not in the ICU. I am a staff RN on a surgical/oncology/trauma floor, but COVID-19 affects me and my co-workers all the same. Stress, fatigue, fear and no matter how many press conferences, emails, and staff meetings, we are just as scared as you are.
Social distancing is “key” for prevention. Nurses, Doctors, Nurses Aides, Housekeeping, First Responders, and all I did not mention, social distancing is really hard to do.
We all take care of patients. We have to get “close”. My unit floats to our “designated” COVID- 19 unit. The nurses on this floor are I am sure already burned out. Part of the job, however on the “COVID floor”, nurses take 100% care of the patient. Nursing, dietary, phlebotomy, housekeeping, etc. Being in California and right now, this fluid moment there are enough nurses to have a 2-3 patient ratio, but in the coming weeks, who knows. The cases rise on a daily more than we could ever imagine.
On my third shift, I was almost done, the rule out COVID-19 patient made it to my floor.
The patient’s nurse was competent, knowledgable and amazing. The staff that went into the room before she was a rule-out patient were just as amazing. I was helping this nurse with blood samples sent to microbiology, helping her with her other patients, when the call came to me…
She won’t hold still for her nasal swab, I need you to help me.
This poor patient was terrified. Terrified that she had COVID-19. She is an Oncology patient and her symptoms are the same as a COVID-19 patient, cough, and fever. She had both and for whatever reason, she was not tested prior to coming to our floor. She needed testing. She would not hold still for the swab.
Together we went in, and in that moment I almost wept, for all of my fellow medical family and that includes first responders, all of the PPE, the gown, gloves, masks, shields, foot covers, hair covers all of it and how many have to wear this for over 12 hours. My heart just swelled with pain, fear and huge respect for them.
We got the swab, but I had to hold this poor woman’s hands and her head just to steady her for the swab. She was so afraid of having COVID-19. I hope for her sake, she was negative. Her fear radiated off of her in buckets.
I go back to work in a few days for four in a row. I have no idea what to expect.
The Surgeon General says this week will be like a “Pearl Harbor” or “9/11”.
Please, stay at home. COVID-19 is so much bigger than you think. It affects us all.
Stay safe, stay home and wash your hands!