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Working Covid 19: On the Front Lines

2015 Classmates Tessa Mastroianni and Kenzie Rogers are both first year nurses working at Mass General Hospital in Boston, and both are experiencing a trial by fire working with Covid 19.

Kenzie:
This has been a very trying time for everyone. My floor was the first at Mass General to take on COVID patients and we have remained at full capacity (38 beds, all testing COVID positive) for about a month now. It is tough. I have seen colleagues quit in an effort to protect their families, colleagues get sick, colleagues send their children away until this pandemic quiets down. Patients passing away all alone. It is truly heartbreaking in a way I can't even begin to describe. 

Tessa:  I’m in my second week in one of the COVID ICUs in this newly established role of having 2 RNs to each patient. The ICU nurse is now able to manage more vents and titrate more sedatives per patient while I do what I can within my scope (meds, tube feeds, documenting, lab draws). Together we share 3-4 patients and that will likely increase as even more patients need to be intubated. Usually an ICU nurse would only have 1-2 patients so it's an adjustment for everyone. 

Kenzie: It sort of feels like we are stuck in a revolving door. We go to work and become family to the patients who aren't allowed any visitors. We come home and are socially isolated from our friends and family. Right now I am working 40-60 hours a week, which isn't much different than normal, but it is draining.  The support we have been getting from the community is overwhelming. Fortunately, I am able to have such great colleagues (and other FA alum) that are in the trenches with me. We are tired and emotional and ready to go back to being normal humans again. It is such a whirlwind of emotions every day! We laugh and cry and scream and panic and then start all over again.

Tessa: It’s been scary to watch healthy people in their 30s-60s just completely decompensate in minutes suddenly needing >6L O2 to maintain their oxygen level and end up being intubated. They've then had a very hard time getting people to wean off vents leading to a host of other problems. It’s a very long disease process. There’s no rhyme or reason who does well and who doesn't. 


Kenzie: While all of this is hard, I am grateful to still have a job, and to be able to make such a difference in these patients' lives. Many people say that we "signed up" for this, but I disagree. Nobody signs up for a pandemic. I am just hoping everyone is taking care of themselves and socially distancing the best that they can! All we can do is hope for the best at this point. 

Tessa: It’s a weird time but I’m thankful to still have a job; hopefully it can be over soon. 
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