I recently volunteered to exclusively work in our main adult COVID ICU (on my old general care peds unit). There are multiple COVID-19 ICUs and moderate care floors throughout the health system. It is terrifying to see two critically ill adults in each room when there used to be one isolette or crib for relatively healthy children. Every night I learn how to do more and more ICU care to help the primary nurses as much as I can. My first night I helped get a bagged body ready for the morgue. My second night I saw family come to the bedside of a man in his 30s to be with him before he passed. Most patients are intubated and several are on continuous renal replacement therapy (CRRT). None of this is fair. None of it seems real. It is very surreal to see room after room with patients maxed out on ventilator settings, sedation, pressors, and barely surviving. In some rooms you can hardly move with all of the IV pumps, machines, supplies, and equipment. I cried the first time I walked the RICU halls, but now feel somewhat immune to the trauma we see at work or watch on TV every day. Then, I find out patients I helped bathe, turn, or draw labs for died that next day and I break down again. My emotions, probably like yours, are all over the place. I can’t always label them but I do know a lot of what I’m feeling is grief. Grief from what our lives were supposed to be like this spring, grief from cancelled events or missed trips, grief from not seeing friends/family, grief from actual death around us, and grief from our old way of life as we transition to a ‘new normal.’
I am thankful however, to have all of the PPE I need to safely enter patient rooms. The entire unit is negative pressure too. This is NOT the reality for many nurses across the US and now some are even getting fired for refusing to work without N95s. While we did sign up for this job to help others, we did NOT sign up to do it without the equipment needed to protect ourselves. Our country was completely unprepared for this pandemic and its essential workers are feeling its detrimental effects the most. The good news is that the curve is flattening thanks to successful mitigation. Please continue to do your part by STAYING HOME until it is deemed safe to leave. You are helping save the world by doing so and the frontline can’t thank you enough. The next time you venture out don’t forget to thank our other crucial frontline staff ~ grocery store employees, postal carriers, truck drivers, bus drivers, chefs, janitors/EVS, and more! Stay strong, we will get through this.
African Americans represent 40% of COVID-19 deaths in MI but only represent 14% of our state’s population. The reasons for this can be attributed to multiple social determinants of health such as having a job that doesn’t allow ‘work from home’, lower income, fewer community resources, comorbidities etc. (this is Nursing 101)!
Proud of our Governor for creating a task force to help understand why these racial disparities are occurring and how we can remedy them.
Please remember you don’t have to be productive during quarantine. We are experiencing a trauma and your only job is to stay home and take care of yourself. Mental health is as much of a priority as physical health so don’t feel pressured into doing anything you aren’t comfortable doing right now. Two articles helped me understand this: A Trauma Psychologist Weighs In & Don’t Feel Like ‘Getting Things Done’?
*Jaanuu is selling cute reusable, antimicrobial masks for when we all have to wear them 🙂
*Love Your Melon also has a face mask/headband collection and FIGS has a mask waitlist
*What I use to sterilize my phone & watch (PhoneSoap) after work, also sold on Amazon