GI Surgical Nurse, Mount Sinai Hospital, New York
April 7, 2020
I was previously at Penn on a med-surg/GI surgery unit before moving back to New York when my physician husband matched at Mount Sinai Hospital for internal medicine. At Sinai, I've also been on a GI surgical floor with step down beds.
The virus response has been quite the experience to observe and has escalated quite fast. From the moment the hospital had its first case, the word was that most of the hospital would be converting to only COVID-19 patients. Our sister unit flipped to COVID-19 quite suddenly, and within a week there were six such units in the hospital. The Javits Center and Central Park hospitals were built, and currently our main lobby is building a unit for more patients.
Last week, on Monday, our unit was finally converted. I was floated to our sister unit and luckily had a chance to see how things were done. I worked the night the unit reopened on Tuesday, and we had 22 admissions. One of my admissions ended up passing on Wednesday. I also worked this past weekend, where we had intubations on each day, with many patients still needing to be intubated. For many people, we've taken to using a combination of non-rebreather masks, nasal cannual, high flows, and CPAP/BiPAP.
Our PPE situation has been tenuous. We finally have N95s, but we are constantly calling our supply room for gowns and face shields. The next move for our floor is that our stepdown beds are supposed to become ICU beds. They are planning to have an ICU nurse floating in these pods to help with vent management and drips.
On Thursday, my husband came down with a cough and low-grade fever. He was told to quarantine for a week but was not tested. Currently I'm at a hotel in Midtown while he's isolating. Luckily, he is feeling much better this week.
Being a nurse during this time has meant so much to me. It's been an honor to serve with my coworkers and the critical care teams who are working their butts off trying to care for these patients. People are doing overtime, floating to different units, and overall checking in with each other to see how we're holding up and assisting with donning PPE correctly. It's also been heartwarming to serve the community I was born into, and seeing the acts of kindness from the local businesses donating food and hearing the claps from NYers when going into my shifts makes me that much more determined to stay in this to beat this virus.
I'm very glad to have the knowledge I received from Villanova because it's been so crucial at a time like this. I've been able to effectively make the switch between managing post op complications to management of respiratory distress, literally within a day! This knowledge has come in handy more than anything.