As luck, fate, destiny, whatever you want to call it, would have it I am back at the bedside as an ICU nurse in the middle of a Pandemic. I have been away from the bedside in various roles for the last 5 years, and now I am back. I live in the Dallas area and right now we are exploding with cases. As nurses, we saw this spike coming from a mile away. As ICU nurses we often notice that our patient is deteriorating before there is any noticeable change in vital signs-we just have that "feeling" that this is not going to go well. I feel that with our current situation here in Texas, however I feel that there is nothing I can do, no bolus to give, no oxygen to provide. I feel like nurses, healthcare professionals and scientists are shouting from the rooftops that our house is on fire. While some see the flames, others ask questions such as are you sure it's fire? Is it just really hot in your house? Did you leave the lights on? Did you set it on fire yourself??
As ICU nurses we are possibly the last stop between your journey on earth and the afterlife. We do everything in our power to keep you here. Why would some people think that people in our position would exaggerate such a dire situation? This is what I cannot wrap my head around. We see firsthand the devastation this is causing, yet all we can do is shout louder only for it to fall on deaf ears. I drive by restaurants and parking lots that are full of cars on my way to care for patients in a full ICU as well as a full COVID unit. Our COVID unit is full so now COVID positive patients are in the general ICU as well. Do we have the staff for this? The answer is no, most hospitals don't. I still read comments on posts about the increased census in hospitals that have every "ya but" response you can think of. Ya, but they are just full because elective surgeries started back again, ya, but the testing numbers are fake, ya, but I have a friend that says this isn't true, ya, but it's all a hoax. Come to work with any nurse just for one day and call it a hoax to our faces.
Now let's talk about PPE. In my hospital, we much like our colleagues in NY, we must wear our N95 masks 5 days before we can get a new one. We are how many months into this and we can't have new masks each day? It is really hard to find germicidal wipes and we even ran out of hand sanitizer about a month and a half ago for a couple of weeks. How is this still happening in our country? Even as cases surge in Texas not every patient is being tested on admission. This is not just in our hospital. We find patients that are positive after they have been in the hospital and staff have been exposed for several days in some cases.
All this to say: after 4 months have we learned nothing??