UPMC Pinnacle Health, Harrisburg Hospital, Harrisburg, PA
April 18, 2020
Talena Truitt is a student in Villanova's Second-degree Accelerated BSN track. She holds a degree in biology from Mansfield University and anticipates graduating with her BSN degree in July 2020. (PAPR refers to Powered Air Purifying Respirators, PPE is personal protective equipment)
I have been working in the healthcare field for nearly 10 years. I started as a Clinical Assistant in the ICU and, after graduating with my bachelors in biology four years ago, I began a new role as an anesthesia technician where I work alongside the anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists in the operating room.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began we are no longer doing elective cases; we still get emergency appendectomies, cold legs or kidney transplants. As a department we are continuing routine epidurals and c-sections (babies of course cannot wait for the pandemic to be over) as well as intubations throughout the hospital.
Our role in the COVID-19 pandemic is intubating the very sick patients who are suspected or positive. With all suspected or COVID-19 positive intubations we are automatically starting an arterial line and central line to proactively begin treatment and monitoring as well as minimize the amount of contact for other workers. For PPE, the anesthetist and anesthesiologist who are entering the negative pressure rooms wear the PAPR masks, N95, gown and boot covers. My role is to assure the PAPR is working properly, assist in donning the PPE, and facilitate the turnaround for the PAPRs.
The collaborative critical thinking between all the doctors, nurses, and assistive personnel has been exceptional. I have seen the nurses on the floor using extra-long MRI IV tubing and extended ventilator tubing so that these pieces of equipment can be outside the room minimizing entrance into the room to decrease contact. This is just one example of the incredible innovation nurses are using!
My education at Villanova has helped prepare and challenge my critical thinking skills in what ways I can assist our department in maintaining the safety of my co-workers and patients.
My heart aches for those patients and families who are extremely ill; no visitors are allowed and most of the units are locked. At least two healthcare workers and two security guards are at each entrance checking temperatures, assessing symptoms, and handing out masks which was an odd adjustment coming to work. Despite all that is going on I have never been more proud to be entering this field as a nurse.
Keep praying and washing hands.