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Stories of Resilience - Jacqueline

Friday, June 26, 2020   (0 Comments)
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Today, ATS member Jacqueline shares her story about COVID-19. Thank you, Jacqueline, for sharing your experience.


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Personal impact:

I’m very lucky and thankful that I have a loving home to return to every night. My husband lets me talk when I need to do, or gives me space when that’s what I need.  I hated sleeping in the spare room, but to keep him safe I did that for about 2 months. 

What is difficult is not being able to see my parents or his mom.  My mother in law is at an independent living a little over an hour away, and we are not permitted to see her.  Somewhat in part because of my job as a nurse. 

My dad is ill, on a palliative plan of care now and so my visits to my folks are brief and outdoors.  This is very difficult for my mom. It’s hard enough having a loved one sick, then to remove family support is devastating.  To answer the questions what about other children.  One brother is a New York City Fireman, the other works traveling the county picking up covid tests to bring to the lab.  So each of us is higher risk than general population. Only my sister is considered “clean” and she’s 2 hours away. 


Professional impact: 

To watch SUNY Stony Brook meet the challenges of this pandemic was amazing.  To be able to go from 605 beds to 750 overnight is just short of miraculous. And we could have added more, thankfully we didn’t need to. Usually house wide we run 30-40 ventilators.  At one point it was over 110.

We have 3 trauma teams, one ICU team, then one resident team and one nurse practitioner driven service to care for trauma patients in the stepdown and regular floors.  Each team has one attending MD overseeing and teaching.  As things progressed and our Covid numbers grew, my resident team and my attending MD’s were “Re-Deployed”.  It was the trauma service physicians that headed up most of the Covid ICU units. 2 of my doctors were sick in the early stages, which was very frightening, they have both recovered thankfully.   

So then it was the nurse practitioner team, 2 of them and one surgeon and myself. Our census didn’t drop much, we still had from 22-30 inpatients daily, but we had less than half as many medical staff caring for them.  The main reason this was difficult was communication with families.  It was impossible for us to talk to every family every day, we relied heavily on staff nurses to assist, and in some cases nurses were re deployed to do just this call families.  The social work work force also had staff out sick they for the most part are working from home doing everything by phone for the last 2 months.  Only a handful in the hospital to help with discharges. So this is where I came in handy, facilitating information from the trauma team to SW staff for discharges, calling families or using facetime, making appointment with them to pick up personal belonging and deliver to patients. For the most part families were very appreciative of communication.  And some were not.  Some days I left work feeling beat up after being verbally abused, in one case threatened. I know these folks were frightened and frustrated and I tried to remind myself of that with each phone call and put myself in their shoes. The folks with the bad behavior, it wasn’t just me they were rude with, they were also rude with several staff members. I went around and apologized to staff assisting with phone calls on behalf of the trauma team, to make sure they knew at least one person appreciated their help.  Some days it was too much. Yes some days I cried at my desk. 

Everyone has gone above and beyond to get through this pandemic.  We all worked more and longer days. Some of my trauma attendings went weeks without a day off.  In the end it paid off.  Our county has the lowest mortality rate in our NY metro region, so I am very proud of my fellow health care team, from the cooks to the housekeepers to the telephone operators.  It was a huge team effort.

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