A Nurse Shares What It is Prefer to Deal with Youngsters Who Have RSV

  • Karen O’Donnell Fountain is a nurse who works at two giant New York Metropolis hospitals.
  • She mentioned it is heart-wrenching to look at infants and toddlers with RSV who cannot breathe on their very own.
  • That is O’Donnell Fountain’s story, as advised to science reporter Paola Rosa-Aquino.

This as-told-to essay is predicated on a dialog with Karen O’Donnell Fountain, a 56-year-old nurse from New York, about RSV, a respiratory virus that’s surging in children throughout the US. It has been edited for size and readability.

My expertise this weekend was crying.

The emergency room was full and we had a number of hallway beds all through that had been full, additionally. They opened up a zone within the hallway the place we transported sufferers all the way down to the emergency and put beds there in order that we may preserve seeing sufferers.

You are making an attempt to assist 10 individuals all on the identical time, and also you’re making an attempt to ship drugs, or get an IV in, or pull labs. It’s extremely tough, as a result of there’s so lots of them and solely one among you. It is rather tiring, and I feel it mentally provides to what we undergo.

That is the busiest RSV season I’ve seen in my profession.

As a healthcare employee, I positively suppose it is resulting from children not being uncovered to germs and never having the ability to combat off the virus as they had been two years prior due to COVID. We’re heading into very tough waters for the pediatric inhabitants.

It is heart-wrenching to look at any affected person, particularly a 3-month-old who cannot breathe on their very own. You are the nurse, so you’re doing issues to them that they don’t admire. I had a 3-year-old that I needed to put an IV in, and drew labs on, and he was a fighter.

You additionally all the time have empathy for the affected person and the mother or father. They’re at a loss as a result of they can not assist — a lot of the moms have a tough time consoling the kid. When you’ve something that makes it onerous to breathe, it simply makes for a really upset and really sad baby.

This was the busiest RSV season Karen O’Donnell has seen in her nursing profession.

Karen O’Donnell Fountain



I work in two giant New York Metropolis hospitals, and each pediatric intensive care models — or PICUs — are full.

Over the weekend, our PICU was at max capability, with most sufferers experiencing RSV-related signs and prognosis. These are youthful sufferers, 5 and beneath, and are positively very inconsolable. Bother respiratory. Not consuming. We additionally had 50 individuals within the pediatric ready room ready to be seen.

I’ve heard this from different PICU nurses in different elements of the nation. Their PICUs are full, and sufferers are staying within the ER till a mattress opens up within the PICU.

In case your baby is enjoying, consuming, operating round, watching TV, and energetic, they in all probability have a standard chilly and we do not need you bringing these youngsters in as a result of it clogs up the ER. We do not wish to put somebody who’s severely unwell behind somebody who’s not.

I triaged two younger women on Sunday, they usually had been each despatched residence. It was only a widespread chilly — it wasn’t RSV — they usually waited 3+ hours. The ER is an emergency room. It’s for emergencies. And particularly going into flu season, we wish to attempt to preserve the emergency room clear in order that we will help the sickest of the sick.

Not everybody is usually a journey nurse. Not all persons are reduce out for it. You permit your private home, your loved ones, your mates. Many of the contracts are 13 weeks that you’re away. When you’ve got children, it’s totally straining.

It is also a really lonely job. It takes some time to make mates, to have any person to speak to at work. It is not a life for each nurse.

However for those who wish to journey, and in case your children are older, and your partner needs to journey with you, it is an incredible life.

I work with a healthcare firm that provides journey nurses, and we now have seen 100% uptick within the request for pediatric nurses and PICU nurses. I feel that is resulting from numerous PICU nurses throughout COVID caring for grownup sufferers. They’ve now transferred to the grownup world as an alternative of going again to PICU. It is having a huge effect on the nursing scarcity within the pediatric areas.

If you’re short-staffed, it implies that your nurse-to-patient ratio or your physician-to-patient ratio goes up. It is having a really giant impression on the nurses which can be nonetheless actively bedside, and it is growing the nurse burnout. It is growing fatigue, dissatisfaction, and despair.

It is positively having a unfavorable impact on us. We’re drained.

All these TV exhibits which can be on the market, like “Gray’s Anatomy” and all that — they hook you on it, however that is not healthcare. Nobody has time to flirt, OK. There’s none of that happening.

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