The coronavirus pandemic is having a massive impact on all healthcare workers. COVID-19 is affecting all specialties in all arenas of care. Nurses are feeling stressed and are one of the most involved professions in the race to control, contain, and treat coronavirus patients.
Coronavirus is named as such, because there are spikes (coronas) projecting off of the virus itself. The official name is actual SARS-CoV-2 (yes it is in the same class of diseases as the original SARS). COVID-19 stands for Coronavirus Disease- 2019. Livescience.com has a more detailed explanation of coronavirus traits and causes.
My Personal Experience with COVID-19 as a Travel Nurse
I am an ICU travel nurse in the Denver, Colorado area.
I have personally taken care of a patient that became a rule-out case after I was exposed to the patient’s environment without the recommended personal protection equipment (PPE). Thankfully, the patient was on a ventilator and no aerosol treatments were being performed while I was in the room. The risk of me contracting the disease is low, but I still must take additional measures while we wait for the results.
People ask- how does this happen? And, what now?
The patient became a rule out patient after she continued to decline and other diagnoses and tests were negative. The patient had tested negative for COVID-19 earlier in the week, but the team of doctors insisted the patient be re-tested.
I commend the doctor who got on the phone with the State and demanded that the patient be re-screened. He advocated for the patient and his staff- which is going to be a very important part of this whole process.
After retesting the patient was considered ‘presumptive positive’ and as of now we are still waiting on results from the CDC for confirmation. In the meantime, I have to wear a surgical mask for 12 hours at work and am not to report to work if I feel any symptoms. Symptoms defined as: fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, sore throat, runny nose, muscle aches, fatigue, headache, abdominal pain/discomfort, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. I am also to keep a log of these symptoms, take my temperature twice a day, and report any use of fever or pain reducers. As of now, if I were to have symptoms, and they resolved, I can return to work (still in a mask for 2 weeks, or if the CDC results come back negative).
They have now deemed a certain section of our ICU as the ‘COVID area’ and directed rule out patients (ICU status or not) to this zone, sequestering them from other patients. There are pieces of red and yellow tape on the floor to direct when where and how to put on and remove PPE. The nurses who work in this area have to constantly put on N95 masks and I can see the exhaustion on their faces at the end of the day.
We are also keeping a strict log of anyone entering the rooms, even if it’s just to shut off a beeping IV pump. Additionally, negative pressure rooms in locations outside of the ‘hot zone’ are being kept available.
The hospital system I work for has clamped down their visitor policy. NO VISITORS are allowed in high risk areas such as the ICU, ED, or oncology. Other patients may have only 1 visitor in the room at any point in time. Staff is screening visitors at the door for risk factors and sick symptoms. I would expect to see other hospitals limiting visitors and implementing similar policies to decrease the spread of the virus.
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As nurses, we need to stay healthy. We need to protect ourselves and keep our patients safe. Staff nurses and travel nurses need to mentally prepare for the possibility of the coming days and what it will mean in our day to day jobs.
Stand together and advocate for the safety of all nurses! We cannot get through this without the keeping our healthcare workers functioning and healthy.