Life on the frontlines: Emergency Room Nurse Practitioner Shares Story

By: Ricardo Rojas

It has been a little over nine months since the occurrence of the infamous Coronavirus. We have all been exposed to the virus one way or another. Some people would say that the spread is inevitable but I would rather differ and call it preventable.  How we respond now and in the future is what truly matters at this point. I believe it is a crucial time to learn more about preventative measures such as observing personal hygiene to mitigate infection especially with regards to emerging tropical diseases.

Impact on Professional and Personal Level

As a nurse practitioner, I continue to do what is expected of me and beyond, and that is to provide quality and efficient healthcare in the emergency/trauma department. In typical scenarios, I take care of patients with respiratory transmittable diseases in a single isolation room. With the surgency of Coronavirus, my encounters are brief and limited to five to ten minutes per patient. I become more cognizant of where patients have been. Before, I had ample time to put on a mask, take them off after each patient encounter, and wash my hands to see the next. With COVID-19, the standards of practice have changed. Today, I work continuously as if all patients receive a 24-hour isolation. With extreme caution for my own family, I take these safety measures seriously with the hopes of not contracting the virus and bringing it home.

The emergency department is the front door to the hospital. Thorough screening helps mitigate the spread during hospitalization. The way we socialize in the hospital has also changed, even on how we conduct our meetings. Patient visitation policies changed to “no visitors allowed”. This is especially difficult for all patients, as having loved ones at bedside to care and pray for is of utmost significance.  Due to this, helping patients understand the medical jargon during their time of illness, and frequently communicating with worried family members at home have become the common situation for all patients.

How can you help slow the spread of COVID-19?

It is very important to keep everything simple. If you know you are sick with symptoms such as a fever or cough, stay home. Only come to the ER when in distress or if you are having trouble breathing. Do not be ashamed to inform others about being ill, may it be at work or with family members. ALWAYS wear a mask around public areas. You do not know where people have been or what they have. Sanitize more often. Observe strict personal hygiene. Do not forget to brush your teeth two-three times daily (my wife’s gentle reminder). Be mindful of contact tracing and notify contacts of potential exposures.

I am not a hero, but I strive as a professional doing my ultimate best. It maybe cumbersome wearing a mask all day; It is a small sacrifice worth enduring and the alternative could be worse. The wick of the candle will blow out, so too will COVID-19. By doing our due diligence, we can continue the activities of our daily life and remain safe.

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