SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Behind every COVID-19 statistic is a nurse putting their life on the line to save someone else’s. One CoxHealth nurse wrote about what that has been like doing her job during the pandemic.
Amelia Montgomery describes her 12-hour shift in Cox South’s intensive Care Unit (ICU) in a letter.
“I’ve been taking notes on my phone if I have down time just in the last six months about the COVID patients we’ve seen,” said Montgomery.
The letter describes the heartwarming moments and the devastating ones.
“We listen as your family tells you over the phone that they love you and can’t wait for you to get better and come home,” said Montgomery. “We watch as this virus kills you despite every fight against death.”
Montgomery asks people to take the virus seriously, meaning wear a mask and take precautions. She says she wrote the letter in hopes that people will understand how dangerous the virus can be.
“We see critical care patients, but this is different,” Montgomery said. “This is like critical care on steroids, and these patients are the sickest I’ve ever seen in my life. I think the frustration that my coworkers and I feel while taking care of these sick patients comes from knowing there are things that we as a community can do.”
Montgomery says Cox South’s ICU is an “open ward of death and very sick patients.” Some patients are there because they were careful and got sick anyway, while others are from rural areas and didn’t follow precautions. Montgomery says families sometimes call in asking to retest their loved ones.
CoxHealth’s medical care director Terrence Coulter says despite the efforts to tell people the dangers of COVID-19, not everyone will be convinced.
“There’s only so much that we can do as far as pleading with the public to adhere to these policies and recommendations,” said Coulter.
Lindsay Skinner, a nurse at Mercy Hospital, faces challenges with communicating with families. Another challenge is communicating with patients while wearing personal protective equipment. Skinner says this is the most challenging healthcare setting she’s worked in.
“We’ve lost many patients and that’s really hard on the staff,” Skinner said. “There are often many coworkers in tears throughout the day just because it’s very taxing both physically and emotionally.”
Skinner works 13-14 hour days and says she loves seeing how much her staff cares for patients. During every shift, her coworkers pray together, sometimes that includes patients.
“We couldn’t get through every day without each other,” said Skinner.
Both hospitals ask individuals to continue wearing a mask, washing hands and keeping socially distant.