Medina County nurse Shauna Davis volunteered for an assignment to help in one of the many hospitals in New York that is completely overwhelmed. She signed up for a 21 day assignment helping to treat patients of the COVID-19 pandemic, from the front lines, along with many other nurses, including several from Texas.
We reported on this story last week, sharing some of her daily journals about the heartbreaking and just unimaginable circumstances that she is seeing first-hand. It shows just how overwhelmed New York is, and just how deadly this horrible pandemic has been, especially in that part of the country. The following recounts some of Davis’ thoughts on days 10, 11, and 12 of her assignment.
“Today was a good patient day, a great patient day. I actually had only had one patient, because there was quite a bit of staff today, which is a nice ratio, even though they are critical care patients and he required quite a bit today.”
“I only had one, and he got extubated around 8:00 this evening. He was okay, he was able to say “yes” and “no”. He held his hands up like he was praying when I was leaving. AMAZING. Best Patient day ever! So I am two for two, walked in yesterday and had the same two patients when I left that evening. So today was the same two patients but I got to split it up and share with another girl, she got to share the wealth with me. It was great. We have had a lot of wonderful nurses, a lot of teaching nurses, they know we don’t do this, that is not our area of specialty.”
She explains some of the changes she’s seeing.
“Now we are trying to avoid going into the ICU room any m ore that we have to . The doors are closed and the pumps are outside. They are ran out of extension tubing…. Housekeeping does the job they can do, but they are supposed to do minimum exposure as well. All the ICUs, SICUs, all of them it doesn’t matter where, all the pumps are outside the doors. So your tubing is running all the way across. They are moving beds kind of across, sideways in the middle of the room , so the tubing fits outside with the IV pole, and inside your man has enough space to get to the wall for suction and things like that, necessities.”
“Through the door you can see your vital signs. Vitals are taken every hour, unless you are titrating meds then it’s every 15 minutes or depending on the situation maybe as often as needed, like every 5 minutes. So learning all that has been a little different.”
“She spoke a patient, “He’s in his early 40’s and he was able to respond and breathing good. Really, really good. Even the doctor was like “today is going to be a good day”. You could even see on his face, wow, that’s a win for us. A win for me was going home having the same two patients and then going back today with the same patients and to be able to say we extubated him and he’s doing well on the nasal canula. It was amazing!”
She thanked friends and community members who sent her packages, “Thank you again because I got more packages today. So I’m going to open them and start distributing them at the hotel (where nurses are staying). There’s a room here that has a microwave, etc. and people leave snacks there. So I’m going to put some of the goodies there. But I’m going to share with my floor first and some of the nurses I’ve gotten to know and the nurses I ride the bus with. I’m going to let them pick so they have snacks throughout the day. Thank you for everything!”
“Every day I go back and I’m shocked. My eyes still pop out of my head. The only thing you can see are my eyes because I have a mask on and the doctor can tell I’m shocked. It’s very different for me. I knew nursing was different but I didn’t think to that extent. It’s crazy. But compassion, the need and the want and the feeling to help is universal. That speaks volumes to the healthcare staff here in New York. Businesses bring lunch and snacks to the us every day to help.”
” Today was a good day, a busy day but a productive day. Let’s see where to start.”
“I started off with one patient. And they moved me from that assignment to another patient, which was on MICU, the same. My second patient was in worse condition.”
“So, update from my guy yesterday, he, he did really well with the extubation he was on pureed diet today and was sent to a step down unit. So, finally, one extubation, one patient doing well. And I’ll take it. That’s one, and he even said thank you and bless you today.”
“None of us, but maybe two or three here, are ICU nurses; the rest of us are not. So we’re getting a crash course in ventilators and crash course in ICU things….I feel like a nurse just out of nursing school….But I’m tips and tricks of the trade there in the ICU.”
“So today we ran out, right, there’s no secondary tubing,” Davis said, explaining the makeshift way that they are having to deal with shortages like these.”
“It’s just the craziest thing I’ve ever seen,” she adds, noting another shortage….”No normal saline 250. None in the hospital, we’re out….It’s just amazing. Amazing. Some of the things that you do.”
“So my patients are well today. I hope for him and for myself that he makes it because gosh I go in there every day hoping that these patients make it….
“So I was telling you about how we implement the Ipad in the plan of care, bringing it to the patient so their family could see them and they could say goodbye to them…Now they actually have two people that come around with those iPads. So they call and say, ‘I need the iPad in room such and such, I need the iPad room such and such,’ and there’s two different ones. And they walk – I mean, they’re all over the hospital all day, but today on our unit, four did not make it.”
“That’s just in our side….We were very busy today in the ICUs, or makeshift ICUs.”
Even meds being used to treat patients are in short supply, Davis notes, “It runs out literally within less than a week’s time, so then you’re learning a new med, until they get a new shipment….. Then, I guess we’ll start using that again. I won’t know till next week because we just we just switched over. So it’s kind of crazy.
“I wish that people could see the state that these people are in in their rooms and of course nobody’s allowed in there with them, but it’s hard to even watch as a nurse. The state that they’re in.”
“So there’s a couple there today that are – I wish they would get better, but the probability of that is not good. It’s really not. So that sad, sad for the nurse, sad for the family, sad for the patient.
The healthcare system is “overwhelmed, right now. All of them are.”
“The streets are looking like they’re getting a little busier, on our bus ride home today there was lots of cars on the road…..New York has not opened up yet so I’m very surprised. But the numbers have dropped below 400 for deaths, I think yesterday, so I guess people are starting to doubt….
“So, anyways today was another productive day. It was a good day. I went in with a patient and left with my patients being okay. Well, stable for what stable is in that condition.”
“So thank you guys. We’ll see what tomorrow brings…. People have asked me about if I would be staying longer (after my 21 days). So that’s still up in the air. They did ask us to stay…..So I might stay because they still need help and we lost, I think three more nurses, today, from being ill…They’ll get tested here because they have the rapid test, so they’ll get tested here, and then they’ll know. If they’re not feeling bad and they want to continue to work or quarantine, and go back to work, they can. And then as far as going home, it all depends, that’s up to their state and how that works out.”
“Anyways, so that’s about it for today, just keep those nurses in your prayers and the ones that had to leave today because they were not feeling well, were running a fever.”
“It was a pretty good day. Mr. Eddie at the Starbucks goes in early and opens at 5:30 am instead of 6:30 so that the nurses can have coffee before they get on the bus at 6 am. Everyone here is making sacrifices! He always greets you with a smile and good morning. Then he tells you to have a blessed day. Nice way to start your day.”
“When I got to the unit – ICU – which will be my home for the next I don’t know how many weeks. I just had to make peace with it. I learn something new every day and ask more questions. ”
“I walked in with one patient and left with that same patient. When that happens I can say it was a good day!”
“A fellow nurse next to me had a patient that isn’t doing so great. We haven’t been allowing visitors but doctors are making a few exceptions….They let his wife come in today because he’s going to be switched to comfort, palliative care.”
“The patient’s wife couldn’t see him for the past three weeks, when she dropped him off at the hospital so the doctor allowed her in. She had COVID and was able to quarantine at home and get better, but he did not. The ipad use so that family can see their loved ones is hard. But today this wife was begging to stay with her husband and there wasn’t a dry eye on the floor. They don’t have any kids and he was all she had. He was her everything… She couldn’t stay very long because of exposure. I had to walk away because it was so emotional. She was asking God to let her take his place. All she wanted to do was hold his hand so he wouldn’t die alone. That’s all she was asking for. She was begging! The nurse that had to say no to her – it broke his heart.”
“The wife knew it would be the last time she saw her husband. They had been married 43 years. If you have someone you care about, tell them you love them.”
“COVID is like a multi-organ system that starts with one and works its way down to the kidneys…it’s bad. It’s horrible. Most patients with COVID get very puffy/swollen and get weepy through the skin. Not only are we dealing with that on our end of the hall, on the other end they have two codes running simultaneously. One makes it and one doesn’t. It sucks! Nobody likes that sound because you know…you see it in the team’s face and they walk away. Then you see the orange bag come up.”
“I’ve seen some heartbreaking things. Every day I pray for the families.”
“Today a baby was born. A friend of mine, a fellow Texan, was the nurse delivering. The mom was COVID positive so the baby had to be taken away and she was quarantined. She didn’t even get to hold her baby. It was hard for the nurse to take the baby away.”
“So two of my fellow nurses had a hard day. Please pray for them. This is not for the faint of heart and even the strongest person will lose a little faith, a little sight, a little hope.”
“Tomorrow I’m going to take my unit some Texas snacks and share cards with them so they know Texas cares. It was a good day but a sad day. If you like someone or love them, let them know. Your kids as well. I miss my family and appreciate them. I am so appreciative of my husband, my son, my daughter-in-law and my grandbaby. I miss her the most. I get a message from her every day wishing me a good day.”
“Thank you for all the cards, boxes, etc. I’m sharing the love with fellow nurses and let them know Texas is thinking about them.”
“Hope to be home by summer but want to keep helping with this battle. Wish you all an amazing day!”