ICU nurses call COVID-19 a 'beast,' share the fight for lives

"There's really no preparing for what we're all facing," explains Sarah Haddix, RN and Director of Critical Care at Anderson Hospital.

Megan Lynch
April 28, 2020 - 10:10 am

MARYVILLE, IL (KMOX) - Critical care nurses say the coronavirus pandemic is scary, unpredictable and has taken their role as caregivers to a new level. 

"It is scary to walk into a patient's room and know that there is a beast in that room that we know nothing about.  But I also know that I became a nurse for a reason, regardless of what I encounter I have to do my job," says Amy Jones, Registered Nurse in the ICU at Anderson Hospital in Maryville, Ill.

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Sarah Haddix, also an RN and Director of Critical Care at Anderson Hospital, says the medical team has shown incredible dedication during this pandemic.  Haddix says they have been posting family pictures in a patient's room and often will use their own phones to make sure patients have contact with loved ones.  

"A lot times you get very focused on your tasks and you don't get that personal connection with your patients, especially in ICU when you're worried about what medications you have to give and what you have to do next," Haddix says. "So it's been nice to watch the staff interact with those patients.  As bad as it is that those families can't be physically present, we know that we're doing everything we can to keep them connected."

Jones says protections that are necessary could have created barriers, "It takes several minutes to even get ready to go into a room, you can't just sanitize your hands and walk in, you can't just go in and touch a person's hand and ask them how they're doing, you have gloves on.  They can't see your face most of the time, you have a mask on and goggles.  We actually had one patient who recognized us by our shoes."

It's their presence and encouragement that nurses have found is making the biggest impact. 

"Where their family would normally be, whether it be physical, emotional, spiritual you actually take that role," Jones says. "I've had patients just grab my hand because they wanted to hold a hand, so you sit there and hold their hand, and if they're crying and need someone to stand there while they cry, you stay there while they cry."

"There's really no preparing for what we're all facing," explains Haddix.  "No one has seen this in 100 years." 

KMOX asked about the ups and downs other professionals have described with coronavirus patients. 

"It's really been very scary at times to watch people that are awake and talking to you and doing fine and then very quickly have a completely different outcome.  They're now very short of breath, the oxygen requirements are going up and up and up and now they're completley unstable." Jones says. "I've seen young people with no health conditions sick as can be and we see the elderly with every health condition that you can check off go home within days."

The hospital recently posted on social media about a 34-year-old father of two who had been on a ventilator, now returned to his family.  "There's no words to describe giving somebody another chance at life," says Jones.

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