- Karen O’Donnell Fountain is a nurse who works at two giant New York Metropolis hospitals.
- She stated 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 informed to science reporter Paola Rosa-Aquino.
This as-told-to essay relies 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 youngsters 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 attempting to assist 10 folks all on the similar time, and also you’re attempting to ship drugs, or get an IV in, or pull labs. It’s extremely tough, as a result of there’s so a lot of them and solely certainly one of you. It is extremely tiring, and I believe 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 assume it is resulting from youngsters not being uncovered to germs and never having the ability to battle 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 might be doing issues to them that they don’t respect. 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 at all times have empathy for the affected person and the dad or mum. 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 youngster.
I work in two giant New York Metropolis hospitals, and each pediatric intensive care items — 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. Hassle respiratory. Not consuming. We additionally had 50 folks within the pediatric ready room ready to be seen.
I’ve heard this from different PICU nurses in different components 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 youngster is enjoying, consuming, working round, watching TV, and lively, they in all probability have a standard chilly and we do not need you bringing these kids in as a result of it clogs up the ER. We do not wish to put somebody who’s severely ailing behind somebody who’s not.
I triaged two younger ladies on Sunday, and so they had been each despatched house. It was only a frequent chilly — it wasn’t RSV — and so they 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 may also help the sickest of the sick.
Not everybody could be a journey nurse. Not all persons are lower out for it. You allow your property, your loved ones, your folks. A lot of the contracts are 13 weeks that you’re away. When you’ve got youngsters, it’s extremely straining.
It is also a really lonely job. It takes some time to make mates, to have anyone to speak to at work. It is not a life for each nurse.
However should you wish to journey, and in case your youngsters are older, and your partner desires to journey with you, it is a tremendous 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 believe that is resulting from loads of PICU nurses throughout COVID taking good care of grownup sufferers. They’ve now transferred to the grownup world as a substitute of going again to PICU. It is having a big impact 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 are nonetheless actively bedside, and it is rising the nurse burnout. It is rising fatigue, dissatisfaction, and melancholy.
It is positively having a unfavourable impact on us. We’re drained.
All these TV exhibits which are 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 occurring.