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We Did Not Sign Up For This

Disasters Article   (4,576 Views | 29 Replies | 926 Words)

7 Followers; 79 Articles; 52,903 Profile Views; 121 Posts

Do you have reason to be terrified?

I am a nurse, and I love what I do. I am proud to be a nurse. I chose this profession because I am a helper. Helping and healing are in my nature, but... I am also a human being with people who love me, a family, hopes, fears, anxiety, and dreams. Just like you.

We Did Not Sign Up For This
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This article was written by someone who wishes to remain anonymous. Due to the topic and emotionally charged nature of the article, the member wanted the topic out in the open so nurses could discuss it. Because she is afraid of retribution if any of her hospital administrative staff should read this article and link it back to her, we offered to publish it for her anonymously. Please add your comments regarding this issue negatively impacting nurses and the healthcare system.

COVID-19 is here and it is terrifying. People are scared. People are panicking.

I have seen posts that criticize nurses who choose not to work right now because they are afraid. “This is what YOU signed up for!” people say.

That is not true. This is NOT what we signed up for. NOBODY has signed up for this.

Unlike what you might have seen on TV, there are many different types of nurses and we all have different skills. We specialize in our own fields.

The Renal nurse knows how to educate patients who are in renal failure about fluid and dietary restrictions, so they do no overload their systems. She understands shunts and dialysis equipment. For the patient in renal failure, she is an expert.

The Cardiac nurse knows how to take care of patients who have just had open-heart surgery. She can read an EKG expertly. She may not know how to connect a patient to a dialysis machine, but for cardiac patients, she is an expert.

The Labor and Delivery nurse can check your cervix to tell when it’s time to push. She can read fetal monitoring strips to make sure your baby is not in distress during labor. She may not be an expert at reading EKGs, but for a laboring mom, she is an expert.

The ICU nurse takes care of the most fragile patients. She understands ventilator settings, arterial pressure readings, blood gas readings. Drugs that most wards will never see – like Levophed are used here. She cannot check your cervix, but for a critical patient, she is a lifesaver.

Each of these nurses (and oh so many more different types of nurses!) are experts in their fields. They “signed up” to care for those patients. They have trained and educated themselves to care for their specific patients. That is why if you are in labor, you want a labor nurse, not a renal nurse, at your bedside.

Right now, ALL NURSES, regardless of specialty, are being called to care for COVID patients. Please bear in mind that not ALL nurses have been trained to deal with highly infectious patients who have the potential to go into acute respiratory distress quickly. We are NOT being offered additional training. This is part of the reason nurses are terrified. This is why some nurses are leaving nursing right now. This is definitely NOT what they “signed up for.”

For the most part, nurses take care of people who are ill or injured with non-communicable illnesses or injuries like cancer, heart disease, strokes, car accidents, etc. This means we can help without the risk of catching our patient’s illness or injury.

We do take care of patients with infectious illnesses as well – the flu, pneumonia, etc. Because these patients do not take up a large part of our hospital normally, we have the appropriate respirators, reverse-air flow rooms, and PPE we need to take care of these patients. These patients are usually on appropriate wards with nurses who have been trained to care for them. Although there is a risk when we take care of these patients, there are also vaccines and known treatments to help us fight if we get infected.

COVID-19 IS DIFFERENT. IT IS A HIGHLY INFECTIOUS, POTENTIALLY FATAL VIRUS WITH NO KNOWN CURE OR TREATMENT.

Because it is a PANDEMIC, many people are sick at the same time. Hospitals are overwhelmed. Patients are being sent to wards where nurses do not have the correct expertise to care for them. Hospitals do not have the appropriate equipment to help keep their nurses SAFE while we are caring for patients. There are not enough masks. Nurses are being asked to wear bandanas or sew their own masks at home! Would YOU walk into a potentially infected person’s room and care for them with a bandana?

So please. STOP. STOP saying “Nurses signed up for this.”

We did not. We did not sign up to sacrifice ourselves because hospitals won’t provide us with the proper equipment and training we need.

We did not sign up to die of an infectious disease just because “it’s your job!”

Do you want a labor nurse trying her best to ‘figure out’ how to operate a ventilator for your child? Do you want a cardiac nurse delivering your daughter’s baby? Do you want a wound care nurse to try and figure out your dialysis settings? No. I promise - you don’t.

We understand you need us, but our families need us too.

If we are scared right now, it’s because we have every damned reason to be terrified.

If some nurses choose to stay home and protect their families, that is their priority. They have a right to protect their own life. No JOB is worth anyone’s life

7 Followers; 79 Articles; 52,903 Profile Views; 121 Posts

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265 Posts; 1,444 Profile Views

LOVE THIS! I vote to move this to the article contest forum.

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citylivinRN has 2 years experience and specializes in ENT/GI/Bariatric Surgical RN.

1 Post; 27 Profile Views

Thank you so so much for this post. This gave me so much clarity. These horrible working conditions is not what I signed up for. To die alone, at my job, away from family, at a young age, due to a lack of basic protection from fatal diseases, is not what I signed up for. I too love what I do, love people, wouldn’t change being a nurse for the world, but it has come down to this point where us nurses can draw the line and choose. Both nurses that choose to go in, and those that stay home bc they value their life and their families lives, both are noble and brave and we thank you.

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waufah has 13 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in ICU,Tele,Interventional Radiology,PACU,Research.

1 Follower; 38 Posts; 1,749 Profile Views

The fact that they have to remain anonymous due to fear of retaliation says alot about the work environment. I agree with the author 100%. I will give a very simple example of car insurance. When you insure your car, the companies know you are always at risk for an accident. If you become reckless ,causing accidents,making multiple claims, earning points,they reassess your risk and either increase your premiums or refuse to insure you,they will drop you so fast you won't know how.. Never will they say,we knew what we were getting into,so we have to bear all the risk! Nursing is a job like any other. It has it own risks, but if the risk is greater than what you can bear,especially the lack of proper PPE, then you can safely walk away and watch those willing to take the risk continue. If this makes me a bad nurse ,inconsiderate,selfish so be it. Fear,anxiety,protecting those you love are very common human reactions and that is who I am, a human being.

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tnbutterfly - Mary is a BSN, RN and specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg.

14 Followers; 139 Articles; 5,599 Posts; 202,216 Profile Views

39 minutes ago, 2BS Nurse said:

LOVE THIS! I vote to move this to the article contest forum.

Yes this is a great article and it is eligible for the article contest. Article participants are supposed to post their COVID-related articles in this COVID-19 forum, following the requirements listed.

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herring_RN specializes in Critical care, tele, Medical-Surgical.

3 Followers; 3,097 Posts; 99,518 Profile Views

We Just Come to Work Here, We Don't Come to Die · Anne Feeney

In the early eighties we cared for AIDS patients wearing complete cover until it was determined blood precautions were sufficient. At first we didn't have sharp containers in each room.

When a patient with bloody lesions stopped breathing I ran to the crash cart, got the Ambu bag and then bagged him. He died later that day in the ICU.

I was written up for not doing mouth-to-mouth. I had young kids then. We don't go to work to die.

PS: The lyrics are attached.

WE JUST COME TO WORK HERE, WE DON'T COME TO DIE.pdf

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Spooky has 9 years experience as a LVN and specializes in Geriatrics/LTC and Urology.

24 Posts; 358 Profile Views

We are all human. Wonderful article. Thank you. ❤️

Edited by Spooky

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48 Posts; 322 Profile Views

"We the people..." oh wait its always been about the corporations, just read about an ER DOC saying I thought we lived in a 1st world country...the media has fooled all of us for a while and made us to believe we were the best, while the world laughed.

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88 Posts; 3,953 Profile Views

I can understand both sides but technically, yes we did sign up for this. Or at least we knew what we were signing up for. In California, we’re considered disaster workers. We learned about this in my community/public health class during nursing school. We went over natural disasters such as when Hurricane Katrina hit. As a Cali nurse, I was positive I’d only deal with earthquakes and fires. Now I definitely wasn’t expecting a pandemic during my career . But it’s here and its the reality of my job. I work OB myself so I work with a specific pt population but was told I could get floated in areas of need. Speaking for my hospital only, despite not having training, I would not do anything out of my scope of practice. However, I do know how to take vitals, how to draw labs or hang meds. As long as I am protected I will do my job. Where it becomes problematic is the PPE hasn't be adequate so I understand why some nurses are fearful.

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819Nurse has 15 years experience as a BSN, LPN, RN and specializes in Nursing.

490 Posts; 7,838 Profile Views

PREACH!

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OUxPhys has 4 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Cardiology.

875 Posts; 9,948 Profile Views

Eh, I think people are fearful because of lack of PPE and not because the person has covid-19. My floor was turned into the covid floor (a unilateral decision by upper management) and originally we were told we have enough PPE. Now a week and a half later we are being told supplies are running low. Re-use if you can. PAPRs are in a central location (even though the rumor is we have 100 for the hospital and only the MICU and our floor have Covid-19 pts....hmmmmm). We just now got N95's to use in case of emergencies (again, another brilliant decision by upper management). You see the pattern? Nurses are fearful because upper administration isn't doing anything to protect their workers.

What I didn't sign up to do is recklessly take care of pt's, to take care of pt's without adequate protection for myself but they do fall under our scope of practice. Gen med doctors still have to take care of them so why shouldn't we?

If we as a society came together and did what we had to do we could overcome this but it's hard when so many people take this lightly and continue to ignore the recommendations of self-isolation and social distancing.

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766 Posts; 9,327 Profile Views

18 hours ago, Sweetmemi said:

I can understand both sides but technically, yes we did sign up for this. Or at least we knew what we were signing up for. In California, we’re considered disaster workers. We learned about this in my community/public health class during nursing school. We went over natural disasters such as when Hurricane Katrina hit. As a Cali nurse, I was positive I’d only deal with earthquakes and fires. Now I definitely wasn’t expecting a pandemic during my career . But it’s here and its the reality of my job. I work OB myself so I work with a specific pt population but was told I could get floated in areas of need. Speaking for my hospital only, despite not having training, I would not do anything out of my scope of practice. However, I do know how to take vitals, how to draw labs or hang meds. As long as I am protected I will do my job. Where it becomes problematic is the PPE hasn't be adequate so I understand why some nurses are fearful.

No nurse has signed up to work without appropriate PPE. Period.

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