At this point, things are so disheartening for so many people. The range of nurses’ stories is so wide and varied, from OR nurses being essentially laid off due to no elective surgeries happening, to nurses being offered a lot of money to come to New York City to work.
New York State has taken the unprecedented step of merging all of its 200 hospitals into one system (New York State hospital system consolidation ).
There’s a lot of death. One nurse told a story of how she had 10 patients in one shift and 7 of them died. In some hospitals, there is a different kind of rapid response team called, specifically for CVOID19 patients, and they are being called sometimes just minutes apart on different units throughout the hospital.
Also, nurses are working with their colleagues who end up being patients in their same units; one nurse told of their nursing supervisor being hospitalized in their own ICU, and they conjectured the supervisor most likely would pass away there.
There’s a lot of understaffing and over-working, including on the medical-surgical units. Part of this is because nurses themselves are becoming ill and unable to come to work.
Some nurses are actually more frightened to work in the medical-surgical units because they have a lack of PPE, and all patients are presumed to be COVID19 negative. Of course, when tests come back days later, the nurses discover that they worked with these COVID19 positive patients without proper PPE. There are also many issues around HIPPA and staff not being able to find out the COVID19 status of the patients they worked with previously.
Another nurse relayed this story: he works twelve-hour shifts on a medical-surgical floor, and their usual patient load now runs from 12-15 patients, the only real charting they really do is vital signs and meds. This is possible because NYC has suspended a lot of normal operations when it comes to providing care as per the governor’s laws:
“A massive section of regulations on the “minimum standards” governing hospitals — dealing with everything from patients’ rights to the maintaining of records — has been suspended ‘to the extent necessary to maintain the public health with respect to treatment or containment of individuals with or suspected to have COVID-19’.” (read about all of the laws suspended) .
This nurse cries after every shift, and he stated his tears are so different from before, in part due to his utter exhaustion. His family and friends want him to quit, they are worried about his health, but he stated he can’t quit now, they need him too much.
Nurses are asking about ramifications of quitting their jobs; some claim that they have been threatened that they will be reported to their board of nursing for disciplinary action (this is not the reportable offense of walking out and abandoning patients, rather for resigning their position). While these threats are likely idle, some nurses are still fearful of losing their licenses.
One nurse states that she works in a COVID19 only ICU unit. She says it’s mostly completely staffed by RNs: they have no NPs, PAs, Residents, Techs, or Housekeepers. Nurses and ICU Attending and Intensivists care for the patients. Med Surg nurses act as techs and assist the ICU nurses.
Recruiting: There is still a lot of recruiting going to bring nurses to NYC. One new graduate nurse (recently licensed, with no work experience) posted on social media about being offered to be “trained” to work in the ICU in NYC. All of her travel and lodging would be covered. She would be required to work 21 days, 12-hour shifts, with no days off. The majority of the experienced nurses tried to set her straight about why this was a really bad idea, but we have no idea if she proceeded or not.
It’s not just NYC: We now have a 54-year-old nurse in Michigan who died, Lisa Ewald.
Unfortunately, nurse Ewald may have had some issues with initially being tested by her workplace, Herny Ford Health System in Detroit, Michigan. She was likely exposed on March 24, received her positive test on March 30, and passed away on April 3. She died alone in her home. (Lisa Ewald’s story).
Rest in Peace Nurse Ewald.
Meanwhile, more than 700 Henry Ford employees have tested positive for COVID19; 500 of the positive tests are nurses. (Henry Ford COVID19)
The field of nursing will be forever changed by this.