A Nurse’s Perspective of COVID-19

I am lucky enough to be friends with quite a few nurses who are working extremely hard on the COVID-19 response in their respective departments and hospitals. I reached out to each of them and simply asked: “Is there anything as a nurse you wish people knew, or think they need to know about COVID-19?”

Here is the first post in a mini series based on their responses.

“There’s a major lack of PPE, but healthcare providers are being as safe as they can be, given the current circumstances. One of the ERs I work in has asked everyone to re-wear their surgical masks for about two weeks, and to reuse our N-95’s if not soiled. A lot of nurses and providers are upset about this, but it’s the current situation and we have to make do. Overall the total number of ER visits seems to have declined slightly. I’m assuming this is because fewer people who would go to the ER for their urgent care and primary care needs are now staying home. That being said, the acuity of the people who do seek care is much higher overall, and because of this some healthcare providers feel stretched thin. Strokes, heart attacks, and chronic illnesses do not disappear in the presence of a pandemic, so we have the dual duty of caring for those patients while keeping them safe from the virus. Both ERs I work in are doing a great job treating everyone in a timely manner and safely, especially given the severity of some cases.

My message to those who are sick is to stay strong and stay at home unless you’re experiencing severe symptoms such as respiratory distress, uncontrollable fevers, etc. We see a lot of mildly symptomatic people (with no risk factors) coming in because they think they have COVID-19, or they tested positive two weeks ago and still don’t feel better. The virus does not resolve in two weeks contrary to what a lot of people think. In fact, the 14th day marks the worst of your symptoms. Also, if you think you have the disease and are experiencing mild symptoms, do not go to the ER for testing (many do not offer testing unless you are admitted to the hospital anyway). If you want to be tested, google a drive through testing location near you, call to make an appointment, and get tested. If you have mild symptoms, stay at home so you do not potentially expose others. Stay hydrated, rest, take Tylenol for your fever and aches, and Mucinex. The ER is available to everyone, but to mitigate the spread of the disease, and lessen the risk of overburdening our healthcare system, ER visits should really be reserved for those who are high risk or are experiencing moderate to severe symptoms, not mild symptoms. Both young and old individuals, immunocompromised or not, previously healthy or not, can experience severe symptoms. Conversely, some people are carriers of the virus and experience little to no symptoms. So if you’re a healthy 24 year-old, you are not exempt from the guidelines set forth by the government and CDC. You need to stay home just as much as your grandma does, for your sake and hers.

We have yet to reach the peak of this outbreak, so we have to continue our social distancing, hand hygiene, and self isolation. With that being said, this doesn’t have to be a time of despair. Technology is at our disposal and we can still go outside for fresh air and exercise, just not in groups. I feel a lot of people are overwhelmed mentally with the thought of being home for another month or longer, and that’s understandable, but we can get through this with patience and support from our families and friends. There are a lot of things out of our control right now, but we can control the spread of this disease as a unified whole, and that is empowering. This is a big reality check for everyone, and I hope when the dust settles in the next 5-7 months everyone will remember the lessons we are currently learning.”

– Kara G.

If you would like to donate and help the COVID-19 response in the state of Georgia, check out the links below.