Tuesday, May 12, 2020

On the Hospital Floors

Environmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler

First-hand accounts of health care workers, top-to-bottom, are worth reading and I strongly recommend this essay by Jaclyn O'Halloran, a 10-year veteran of nursing who has spent most of that time in cardiac care until now.

She describes the experience of being assigned "to work in unfamiliar units, with patients who are outside our expertise, without any training. We're lost."

COVID-19 nurses are the most exposed to the disease, going "from one room to the next, medicating, bathing, turning, and comforting their patients without changing their uncomfortable personal protective equipment, since supplies are limited." On the other hand, in her hospital, physicians "have been instructed to enter patients' rooms unless they must as a way to minimize exposure" to themselves and others.

She thinks that "leadership is failing us" and that in the end, "Nursing, and nursing, are not valued."

Cady Chaplin is an intensive-care nurse at Lenox Hill Hospital, NYC. Co-worker, Karen Cunningham, veered to nursing after a career in photography. She was given permission to photograph Chaplin over two shifts. While they stand alone, they also give one an idea of what O'Halloran describes. David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, wrote an introduction to this portfolio in which describes the exhaustion of the work, emotionally and professionally.

I found them very powerful, moving and touching. They can be seen in this link, photographs of a COVID-19 shift

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