Nursing Is Hard. Nursing During COVID Is Crushing. Part 1

Continuing with the discussion of National Nurses Week, I want to share a story with you. In the last seven months I have been doing some ministry work online with nurses from all over the country. This story comes from Kendra (not her real name).

Kendra graduated nursing school in the spring of 2020 and was immediately hired as an ICU nurse. She did a rotation in ICU and knew what to expect: she would be assigned a patient for which she would provide care. That patient would be her focus. She would coordinate with the many docs consulting on that patient's care, monitor the meds the patients needed, communicate with the family, and assure continued care when the next shift came on.

Kendra was hired by a hospital in a city with a population around 200,000 people. While her city wasn't a hot spot for COVID, per se, at one time there were a high rate of cases in her city.

She described to me what a typical shift was like. She knew going to work that she would come home feeling like she had been run over by a Mack truck. She had not one, but three patients in her care. They had COVID. They were pretty serious by the time they got to the ICU, and she knew that they would leave her ICU with the funeral directors or on to comfort measures. This reality wore on her.

While they were still with her, each had ten (sometimes more) IV bags delivering life-saving meds. It was her job to monitor their progress and stay on top of ordering these meds so treatment would continue uninterrupted. For three patients. As she would finish her tasks with one patient, assuring that all was stable and getting her mind on what she needed to provide for the next one, she would walk out of the room and the patient's oxygen levels would crash. She ran through all she needed to do as she hastily donned all her protective gear so she could go back in and treat.

Meanwhile, she had two other patients needing her life-saving care. Doctors needed to consult. Meds needed to be ordered. Families (who were not allowed to visit) had called wanting updates on their loved ones.

At the end of her shift, she cleaned up and went home to her family. They wanted supper. The oldest child needed help with math. The toddler wanted mommy to play. Her husband wanted time with his wife.

Kendra is 25 years old and works 3 shifts each week. When they are fully staffed.

This is Kendra's Story - But I Heard This Same Story Over and Over

Nursing is a gut-wrenching profession. In non-COVID times nurses experience a lot that the rest of us don't.

Tomorrow, I will share how we can be a part of giving back to these wouded saints and help them heal from the trauma they've experienced.

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