June 21st, 2020


There should be designated units within hospitals that are specifically prepared for a pandemic. In our unit we had a good stock of N95s, but they were so old that the straps were dry-rotted and snapped (and I hate to think about how effective they were at filtering since we made new straps and used them anyway until we rounded up as many PAPRs that could be found in the hospital). These units should have a PAPR for every nurse/CNA/respiratory therapist/doctor working there. There are many other things that could be improved, but being able to protect the staff should be the first priority.

There have been a lot of technical and logistical struggles with COVID, and there have been emotional struggles as well. I wrote this about a month into my experience with it:
It certainly wasn't the first time I was with someone when they died, but today was different. We coordinated a video call with his family; his grown children and his wife. I held the iPad for him as everyone cried, told him how much they loved him, and said their goodbyes. I promised his wife I would stay with him and for the next hour I did. I gave him medication when he needed it, held his hand, and sang to him. "Hallelujah." I probably sounded like a broken record, but it was the only song I could think to sing. He wore a surgical mask, I wore a gown, gloves, and a PAPR; with the humming of machines in the background... it just felt like such a sterile, horrible place to spend your last moments on earth. I felt honored to be with him, but very much heartbroken that his family couldn't be.
The rest of the day was completely uneventful, and that's a good thing, but the morning has been sitting a little heavy on my heart.

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