Help Slow the Spread, Wear a Mask

My name is Sadie Miller and I am a registered nurse working in the Acute Care. I have been lucky to work with some of the most amazing nurses as our healthcare system is challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic. Being a nurse has been one of the largest blessings in my life. I look forward to caring for our community members and providing comfort when they are ill, but my ability to do so has been compromised as COVID continues to create obstacles to that care.

I want to take this opportunity to share with you some of the challenges nurses and various other staff are encountering as a result of this pandemic. Acute Care has always been a challenging unit to work on as our nurses need to care for many different types of patients. Our specialties include labor and delivery, emergency department, pediatrics, ICU, surgical, behavioral health, and now COVID patients. As this virus has infiltrated our community it has created staffing shortages, stress, frustration, sadness, and what feels like hopelessness as an end is not in sight.

Caring for COVID patients involves much more than just entering a room, taking vitals, doing an assessment and administering medications. Every time we need to enter the room of a patient we must first wash our hands, put on a plastic gown, gloves, surgical mask, face shield, bouffant cap, and shoe coverings. If a patient is not doing well and the nurse needs to intervene quickly it is difficult to do so as these tasks take time. It is important for nurses to wear this protective equipment so we can continue to care for your family member, neighbor, or friend. Another challenge has been the limited number of resources we have to help these patients breathe, despite our facility doing everything possible to obtain more. Staffing has also been a challenge. Our leaders have done a great job in increasing nursing staff to better care for COVID patients, but our staff has not been immune to contracting the virus. We have had to work short staffed which has left us physically, mentally, and emotionally more exhausted than ever.

To me, the most difficult part of this pandemic has been watching patients not survive COVID. Standing at the patient’s bedside as they are isolated and alone, my eyes filled with sadness as I hold their hand and tell them it is ok if they are tired and don’t want to fight anymore. It is gut-wrenching to call their family and explain that their loved one is not doing well and may not make it through the day; hearing the desperation in their voice as they ask if there is anything else we can do. These are the realities our nurses and other medical staff are encountering as patients become sicker and mortality rates increase. Nursing was once known to be one of the most trusted professions, but as of late it feels instead that our integrity is being questioned as false information is spread to the public and people down play the severity of the situation.

I cannot encourage people enough to wear a mask, socially distance when possible, and stay home when you feel sick. Simply wearing a mask in public can decrease the transmission of the virus and potentially save the life of your mother, father, son, or daughter. I know you are tired and want the world to return to normal, but we are tired too, and we need your help to get through this. Together our community can do great things, let this be one of them.