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A student reflection, by Kendall H., Emergency Department Nurse

May 18, 2020

A student reflection, by Kendall H., Emergency Department Nurse 

"Every patient that walks through the doors I now consider a possible COVID threat. The symptoms are always changing, the ways to protect ourselves change by the hour, and the patients come from mild symptoms to severe. The last few weeks have been the scariest, as you see a patient come in for fever and cough, they are swabbed and  discharged home stable. Two days will pass, and the same patient comes through the ambulance bay doors hypotensive, febrile, in respiratory distress, diaphoretic, pale, and knocking on heaven’s door. The nights before I have to work I wake up multiple times for no reason besides the underlying fear and anxiety this has caused.

Yesterday was an extremely stressful day for me. My first rule out COVID patient was at 10 am. They came in by rescue as an alert, with high suspicion of COVID. We met the patient in the ambulance bay in full protective PPE. She was a 75-year-old female that was coming from a rehab status post-hip fracture. She was pale, she was diaphoretic, she was hypotensive, and she was breathing 42 times per minute. Her oxygen saturation was 72% on room air, she was on a non-rebreather. She was lethargic, and she was scared. I brought her in the room and the first thing I said to her was, “there is going to be a lot going on, everyone is wearing PPE to protect themselves, we are going to care for you.” She looked at me and said, “thank you for all that you are doing, you are brave.” The patient continued to decline rapidly, and we ended up intubating her within a matter of an hour. This puts the healthcare providers at the highest risk for exposure. That didn’t scare me, I was caring for my patient. This is reciprocal caring. Although the long hours and anxiety have made it scary to go to work, that patient cared about me as a nurse. I cared for her as a patient ... This is why we continue to do what we do. This is why I became a nurse... There is hope that people will recover, and we can help them. This patient gave me the courage to continue to care for her even with unknown territory."

Submitted: April 2020