I am proud to call this woman my best-friend. She's been my bestie since preschool and she has been a leader and an inspiration to me for many years. Now more than ever, I admire he positivity and strength.
Name, Profession, County where you reside:
Christina Cunningham, ICU RN, Placer County, CA
What is your greatest challenge right now and how are you working to overcome it?
Dealing with the ever-changing requirements and recommendations that we health care workers walk into each day. Every time we report to work, we have to adjust our PPE usage (How do we conserve what we have? Disinfect between patients? Who do we isolate? Ect.) Each day, we adjust how we care for the COVID-19 patients, either “rule out” cases or “positive.”
We hear how we need to isolate, how we need to group our 2 patients when we make assignments. Do you group together 2 “rule out patients” - putting them each at risk because potentially one has it and the other doesn't? Is it fair for an RN to take care of 2 “rule outs?”
Or do you pair one “rule out patient” with another ICU patient admitted for something unrelated and put them at risk? What about the patients that are immunocompromised? Neutropenic precautions? Elderly? Unfortunately, that is the typical population of patients in the ICU to begin with!
It is so hard to make each assignment "fair" or even logical because no matter how you pair them, someone is at risk- whether it be patient or health care worker.
My second opinion, regarding my biggest challenge is equally important. I, as any healthcare worker, walk in everyday, leaving my family at home, to care for someone else's family member. Yes, this is the normal part of the day, just like any other day. But now, it's different, because not only are we managing COVID-19, but we are managing so many emotions from our co-workers, patients and their families. We have tired, scared, nervous health care workers who, ultimately, do want to be there because this is our calling. But we also sometimes want to stay home with our families and not put ourselves, or them, at risk. Then we have scared patients and families (mind you who are not allowed to visit because you can only come into the hospital on very special circumstances) who are watching the TV and scared out of their minds.
I try to be level headed, calm, rational and lastly, but most importantly - empathetic and kind. I try to do what's right by the hospital, by my co-workers, by my patients, ect. Then I come home and do what's right by my family - still be emotionally, mentally and physically there for my young children and be a homeschool mom to my kindergartener. I try to be an involved, understanding and loving wife to my husband who stays home everyday to care for our girls and manage the home life. Ultimately, I want to look back at all of this and say, "I did my best in all aspects of my life at that stressful and trying time."
What will be our greatest challenge in a year and how can we overcome it?
This is hard, I would like to say... this will all be behind us in one year and we will be back to our normal lives. But, this is a time for us to learn and prepare for the next time this may occur – hopefully never in our lifetime. I want all of us - healthcare, communities, local business and the government to hopefully look back and actually learn how we can better prepare ourselves and future generations.
Have you ever lived through anything like this before?
Anything else you'd like to add?
I'm nervous for what the next month or so holds. I'm nervous to be in a situation where my patient needs to be intubated to live, but we have decided because they are over 70, that the 55 year-old instead gets the ventilator. My mother, her husband, my aunts and uncles, my best friends’ parents... they are all at risk. It breaks my heart that if they were in the position, it may be them that we have to let die as peacefully as we can allow.
I want to end this on a positive note. Please know how thankful I am to have the career where I am able to make a difference and help in a time of crisis. I am so proud of the job I do everyday. I am proud of the people I work with. Yes, from what we have seen and learned from other countries, the worst is yet to come. I am ready to battle this damn virus with the awesome people around me at work. We will overcome as long as we stay flexible, adaptable, positive and compassionate.