I work on the gynecology surgical oncology inpatient floor, but during the pandemic, the entire floor converted into a COVID-19 inpatient unit. Working with these patients brought extraordinary challenges. First, I went through extreme anxiety and fear of being exposed to the virus and carrying it home to my family. In addition, the work was incredibly taxing. Nurses jumped in on many other job duties on the COVID floor in order to reduce the use of personal protective equipment. We fed patients, cleaned up after them, made video and audio calls with their loved ones. Through all this, seeing these patients deteriorate and having several heartbreaking discussions with family members was an emotional roller-coaster. The patients in this unit had low oxygen levels and could suddenly become critically ill. Of course, it’s never easy to witness my patients suffering, but I never gave up on any of them. I held out hope and prayed that each would survive. I cheered each patient that I discharged home, and seeing them reunite with a family member put a smile on my face. Most of all, I appreciated the support I received from my family. That encouraged me to keep going.
“The unknown was frightening, but the urgency the pandemic placed on health care workers all over the world didn’t allow us to sit in that fear or uncertainty for too long.”