Things have changed in the ICU department. But many of the changes have affected the ICU nurses.
Anthony Lundquist, the Charge Nurse in the Jackson Street Intensive Care Unit (ICU), has been a part of these changes. From being screened when arriving at the hospital to changing into the PPE equipment every time they go in and out of COVID or suspected COVID patient’s room. Just getting ready can be exhausting and takes about 5 minutes to put on a N95 mask, hair covering, shoe covering, 2 sets of gloves, and what they call a bunny suit. The bunny suit, a disposable garment which is worn in an environment with a controlled level of contamination. With all this coverage, the nurses are hot within a matter of minutes.
One of the biggest changes in ICU is that the nurses are no longer able to hug or move freely from room to room. There is now cluster care, where the nurses gather to discuss the patient’s care. The nursing staff is adapting to the new way of doing things but there was a lot of hesitation at first. Many of the are parents and COVID-19 was an unknown, but they are all committed, knowing that this is what they signed up for when they decided to become a nurse.
As for the patients in ICU, there is a lot of fear at times. They are scared and their family cannot be there with them. The nurses don’t look human and the patient can’t look into their eyes and see the compassion that the staff has for them and therefore they do not completely trust the nurses.
As a parent of two children aged 2 and 4, Anthony had changed his home routine. As and ICU nurse, the works long and short weeks; meaning, he fluctuates the number of days a week that he works. Since his workdays are 7 a.m.-7 p.m., he is usually home after this 2-year-old is in bed. In the beginning, he tried to have no contact with his family unless it was his day off. Now, he undresses in the garage keeping his clothes and shoes outside of the home. He then runs through the house to the shower. His 4-year-old knows there is no touching until after the shower.
According to Lundquist, “We do our absolute best to take care of everyone. It is a team effort, we are family. And, when we lose a patient, it is difficult. We have lost patients that are only a few years older than some of our staff and it does affect us, but we know that we must soldier on, there are others that need us.”