My Name is Sandra and I’m an RN. My experience working has been quite challenging, when dealing with the Coronavirus Pandemic. As a hospice nurse, our practice is not limited to just hospitals. We see patients in hospitals, nursing homes and in their home. Hospice nurses provide “End of Life Care” to patients in all settings.
So far, my experience has been extremely challenging. I have been exposed twice, with two different patients, in their homes. Well, actually one patient, and the other person was a family member of a patient I cared for.
Working with home patients during the pandemic I am finding to be extremely challenging, due to the fact that when families have a loved one not doing well, they call and we visit. Upon screening the patient and family members, I find most of the times family members will say the patient, themselves or any household members are not exhibiting symptoms, only to find out upon arrival that there’s a family member or two who are exhibiting symptoms.
We ask screening questions to protect ourselves and to minimize the spread of the Coronavirus. However, when family members are in a crisis, the only thing they are concerned about is getting their loved ones needs met.
In the beginning, this was an extreme challenge for me due to the fact I didn’t feel family members were being honest. After experiencing this a couple of times, I took it upon myself to just assume that everyone was positive or exhibiting symptoms and used the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE.)
I feel extremely helpless seeing a patient and their family go through dying, particularly from COVID-19. Many of our patients have a life expectancy of SIX months or less. However, since the pandemic, I am seeing higher incidences of deaths happen a lot quicker than I normally would see them.
Many of them are stable when they come on to our service. However, I am seeing more and more patients come on to service and within a week or so, they pass away. I feel terrible for the families, due to the fact that they will not be able to properly funeralize their loved one, or because the funeral will have to be limited to only 10 people, which can be stressful for a family. I would also like to add, that I am seeing more and more families choose cremation over the traditional burial services.
When our patients go into the hospital due to COVID-19; we are not allowed to visit those patients in the hospitals due to the goal, which is to minimize exposure. Families are not able to visit patients either. So, after I visit a patient (nurse of the patient,) I’ll call the family and update them on a daily basis. This helps alleviate any worries they may have and provide additional support to them. My experience has been, families are extremely grateful for the telephone call and the caring support I provide. The hospital nurses are doing an excellent job with video calls for family members, especially when they know the patient is not doing too well.
My professional opinion on how people are protecting themselves; it gives me great comfort seeing more and more people wearing masks and gloves. I feel for the most part, people are taking this serious. It most certainly disheartens me when I see individuals not taking it seriously, especially people of color. As a race, we are at higher risk for contracting this virus, due to the many comorbidities people of color have. I have two diabetics in my home. It is my job to protect not only myself, but my loved ones as well.
The pandemic has certainly changed the entire healthcare profession, especially for nurses. Many of my colleagues have mentioned changing professions. However, once we reflect on why we became nurses, we do what nurses do…and that’s to continue to care for those in need.
Chicago, IL, USA