Frontline workers talk about toll of more than 200 days caring for COVID-19 patients

Frontline workers talk about toll of more than 200 days caring for COVID-19 patients
Nurses at KDMC have been dealing with COVID-19 for more than 200 days now and are feeling the strain. (Source: WLBT)

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Healthcare workers are folks you expect to be there in your time of need. And they’ve been on the front lines of this COVID-19 pandemic for more than 200 days now.

“Every room that you walk in, you kind of have that that they may have the virus and you’re always a little hesitant,” explained Nick Smith, RN. “You worry about going home. You worry about being around your wife and kids and it’s just a constant kind of stressor, I guess you would say.”

Smith is the ER Manager at King’s Daughters Medical Center in Brookhaven. He says he feels fortunate to have had the support from the hospital, never reaching a critical low on PPE when he was hearing about it across the country. But there’s another side to being in a small town.

“Most of the people that come here, we know ‘em,” noted Smith. “So that definitely... it just makes you recognize that this virus, there’s no lines it won’t cross. It affects everybody.”

They opened a COVID-19 testing site behind the hospital in an attempt to free up space from folks who may otherwise come to the ER seeking a test. Lisa Shann is managing that operation.

“Honestly, it’s taking its toll,” said Lisa Shann, RN. “It’s been a long journey since March 23 when we opened the site.”

They went from testing around 20 people each day to now averaging around 80. And then find themselves breaking the news of test results to patients.

“So a lot of people are either very, very sensitive to it and very scared still of it and then I’ve got a lot of people that really are not bothered by the virus,” she described.

Even when she’s not here, Shann gets calls from community members who are aware she’s in the know. So, it’s all COVID, all the time. Still, she makes this note.

“I signed up to be a nurse because I absolutely enjoy and love working with people and being there for them when I can and especially at a time like this, this gives me that reassurance that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing,” Shann added.

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