Summer is officially in session and all my plans have been canceled due to coronavirus (COVID-19). However, no matter the quarantine ban, frontline workers are still trudging through the outside world and for that I'm so thankful.
After talking to Samantha Sanky, an emergency room patient care associate (PCA), I was reminded of how important it is to smile, stay positive, and find the light in every day. As a PCA, Samantha basically has the same job as a nurse, besides administering medications. She draws blood, does EKGs, assists in basic bedside care, and also helps with other major tasks. Moreover, Samantha is currently studying to become a registered nurse and will be done within a year. From what I've learned, I know that she will be a phenomenal nurse.
Since Samantha works in the emergency department, she encounters many hardships and fear, but no matter what, she continues to find ways to pull herself out of the darkness.
Thank you, Samantha, and all the other frontline workers who encourage society to remain optimistic. We appreciate you today and every other day.
What is your hospital's procedure in regard to COVID-19 patient care?
We put the patient in an isolated room, swab them for COVID-19, draw blood work, do an EKG, and check their oxygen levels.
What is the protocol if you or another nurse shows signs of an infection?
They recommend we stay home if we have a fever or show other symptoms. Originally, our hospital was not testing workers for the virus, they actually told us to just stay home until we are symptom-free.
Do you have enough PPE?
Finally, after multiple months we do, but in the beginning and through most of this pandemic we did not. We are really thankful for the people who donated a bunch of PPE.
What is the biggest change day-to-day has faced because of COVID-19?
Wearing an N-95 throughout my shift and changing into regular clothes before I go home. I also stay away from friends and family members as much as I can.
Describe your hospital's atmosphere.
Extremely scary. We all were scared to get the virus or even bring it home to our loved ones. We saw a bunch of sad things that not only frightened us but will stick with us forever. Though this virus has instilled fear in us, we fought back even harder to help our patients. We also stuck together which I found to be the most important part whether it was helping each other with a patient or just being there for a shoulder to cry on.
How do you feel about the national news coverage of COVID-19? Accurate? Downplaying the situation?
It's hard to say — I feel that the news exaggerates certain aspects and downplays others. I personally try not to listen to the news because I deal with this enough at work and listening to people talk about that when I watch T.V. is the last thing I want to do. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that the people that are on the news talking about this virus aren't dealing with it firsthand like we are. They can give you numbers every day and say how sad it is that people are dying, but they truly haven't seen what sad really is that they haven't seen a person dying in front of their eyes as much as we have.
What is one thing you wish you could tell the country about COVID-19?
That it is serious. Not taking it seriously will only end up hurting you or someone around you. We don't know what's going to stop it and we don't know the best way to stop spreading it, but we do know it's real and it's killing people.
How is your personal life impacted by COVID-19?
In the beginning, I was extremely depressed. It was hard seeing what I saw every day and not having my friends to go out with and take my mind off of things. It really started to get to me, but I started to take measures into my own hands — I started running more, journaling, and finding time to do things that made me happy on my days off (days off have been extremely rare but I take advantage of them).
Are there any stories of hope that you can share with us?
The thing I love about my hospital is that when a patient is discharged they play "Walking on Sunshine" over the hospital speaker and we all run out to the main lobby and clap for the person. I was having a terrible day and I walked into work when it was the first day they were doing this, the song played, and my co-workers told me to follow them. I joined in by clapping for this person and seeing them cry with tears of joy while leaving brought tears to my eyes. It was something I really needed to see and experience that day when I was feeling as though everything was crumbling.
What advice can you give us for staying as healthy as possible?
Take vitamins for your immune system, wash your hands CONSTANTLY, social distance, and mainly take care of your mental health. Do things that make you smile.
What can citizens in your area do to help healthcare workers fight COVID-19?
Be smart. Stay away from people that you haven't been around, check in on your friends and family that are on the frontline, and do your best to social distance.