Frontline in a COVID-19 ICU

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We take 5 minutes to catch up with a nurse working in an ICU ward during the Coronavirus pandemic and find out what it’s really like. We’ve changed her name so she can speak freely about the experience.

Sky: So, Karen can you tell us how you ended up in working in the ICU?

Karen: I’m a Senior Clinical Specialist Nurse by trade working in another department within the trust. I was drafted into the ICU to help with the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve been working on shifts within the unit for about 3 weeks now.

Sky: Can you tell us what your 1st thoughts were when you found out you was being sent to help in ICU?

Karen: Oh Shit!!

Sky: That bad?!

Karen: Yes, purely by what I had seen on the news in Italy and the tell tale signs in London, I was expecting to be sent into a war-zone. I was also worried about my two young daughters. My shifts were to become longer, so I had childcare concerns and there was the obvious self infection risk. I have to admit I was worried.

Sky: So prior to going to the ICU what support were you given?

Karen: I needed to get up to speed on a few area’s that are specific to working in an ICU. I have to say the Trust gave us Clinical Training Sessions for a week leading up to being deployed. They didn’t leave anything to chance. The level of communication was also stepped up with 2 daily meetings and regular information bulletins. These covered best practices, through to internal processes & general information worldwide on the pandemic. I was still anxious but I slowly started to feel more comfortable about what lay ahead.

Sky: So what was it like in the ICU?

Karen: Busy but not at breaking point, thankfully. The NHS is fairly robust, believe it or not! – I was actually working in the COVID ICU although we had 3 other wards dedicated to COVID positive patients in various stages of the virus.

Sky: Do you think it’s a virus in the normal type sense?

Karen: I’m not qualified to comment on that. But from a personal perspective it has really made me question how it attacks particular segments of society and so aggressively as well. It really is unprecedented.

Sky: So the PPE Question! Did you have it, was there any issues at all?

Karen: I have to say hand on heart. Our Trust was very good. We had everything we needed. Double gloves, all the correct masks. We could change when we needed too. There was the odd occasion when stocks were running low and occasionally spares were limited. But our Trust was really on the ball.

Sky: What’s surprised you most about working in the ICU in the current climate?

Karen: A number of things to be fair. Firstly, How for the 1st few weeks families couldn’t be bedside when their loved ones were going to pass. I know that has now changed but it was a shame early on. I’ve also found the camaraderie amongst the staff to be some of the best I have seen in the hospital. Everyone is really pulling out all the stops. The support from the public and local community has been fantastic too. It has all helped!

Sky: Karen, thank you so much for your time today. It’s been fascinating listening to you and we’re all in awe of what you’re doing!

Karen: Awww, no problem, anytime. Can you please just remember to tell your readers to stay at home. It really is making a difference.

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