The pandemic is getting worse across the nation, meaning our health care workers are having a tough time keeping up with more patients.
Baptist Health Paducah has several floors where sections are cut off to create “Special COVID units.” One of them is on the fourth floor.
The hospital shared stories of life behind the front lines. The staff spends every day moving beds, taking out supplies, and suiting up for a long day in CAPR masks.
Nurse Sarah Lamb said the masks are much easier to work in compared to the N95 mask.
“You just feel a lot more protected, and then your patients can see your face, and then you know you can communicate better with patients,” Lamb said.
They do all of this in an ongoing effort to care for their patients. Nurse Shelby Curtsinger said the list of duties is a long one.
“You got to get breakfast to them, you got to get their medicine to them, you got to make sure that they’re clean and dry and comfortable,” Curtsinger said.
“All of the normal things, but add 15 layers of PPE on top of it.”
Curtsinger wears a “You got this” button every day that reminds her to keep stay positive on the job.
She now works 12-hour shifts with her rest colleagues, seeing patients through recoveries, supporting others in their final moments.
“I miss the days of being able to interact with my patients normally and for my little ole nannies, (for me) to not have to ‘Pull your mask down and let me see you smile,’ ” Curtsinger said.
“That’ll break your heart because you know, especially these ones that have been in the nursing home, that they haven’t seen anybody else’s face in months, they haven’t seen a real smile in months, and that’s really, really hard.”
Health care staff are seeing the worst of this pandemic. We will never see what happens inside patients’ rooms.
The hospital has more than 30 people hospitalized because of COVID-19.
Baptists Health Paducah Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brad Housman said they need everyone to do their part and follow CDC guidelines, as they save lives and support each other.
“Every day is a new day and a new challenge when you’re dealing with something like this that evolves very frequently,” Housman said.
He said he and other hospital administrators go into work, ready to help any way they can.
“It’s just being eager to be here and being of help to support our frontline staff.”
The staff on the Critical Care Unit floor, where it is more intense, are fighting the same fight.
The staff here work with fewer patients than nurses in other “Special COVID units” because their critically-ill patients need more attention.
All health care workers are exhausted, but you can help to reduce their workload.
“We need a lot of prayer, we need a lot of grace, we need a lot of, everybody needs to have a lot of compassion for everybody else,” Curtsinger said.
“You’ve got to think that you’re not the only one in the world.”
Health care workers are pleading with the public to wear their masks, wash their hands, keep 6 feet apart, doing everything to avoid contracting the virus.
Housman said they have enough supplies and equipment to fight the pandemic, but as the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations grows, so do the concerns for having enough staff.