Connecting with coronavirus patients, and their families
Northwell Health is proud to spotlight our front line health care workers. See how Northwell clinicians – doctors and nurses – are responding and working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read their stories here.
Nicole Fishman, RN, isn’t just caring for COVID-19 patients at Huntington Hospital, she’s helping them communicate with their families too. Hear her story.
During the COVID-19 crisis, there’s been an even greater focus on caring for our patients as whole people in light of very limited visitation policies. They sometimes get scared having minimal contact with their friends and families. But my staff and I have been proactively calling family members and giving them updates on their loved one throughout the day. We are also using iPads and tablets to Facetime and Skype with families, so they can share their love with our patients.
When we are communicating with families through tablets, I think about my own parents and how I would want them to be treated if they were in this situation.
It’s been amazing getting so much support from throughout our hospital. All of the people are are caring for are either suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients. So everyone is isolated and requires a higher level of care. We are managing this by working as a team, staying strong and supporting each other in any way that we can. As expected, we’re taking everything day by day.
Wearing all of this additional gear can make it harder to breathe, which is why we need more frequent breaks. I try to take advantage of any time away, going outside for fresh air and to clear my head.
All of Huntington Hospital’s employees have been so appreciative of the meals that we’ve received from community donations. It’s been very helpful to not have to worry about cooking or preparing food. We can focus on what matters most — our patients.
One thing I’ve been surprised about is that younger patients — people in their 40s, 50s and 60s — are deteriorating faster than I would have anticipated. Some don’t have a past medical history of pre-existing conditions.
I’m fortunate to have a very supportive boyfriend who’s at home cooking and taking care of things while I’m out fighting COVID-19. Many of the other nurses on my unit have supportive significant others who have been writing encouraging letters and packing food for us.
When I leave work, I take several precautions in an attempt to protect my boyfriend from this dangerous virus. I change my shoes before I get into the car and shower immediately when I get home. I take all of my clothes off right by the door and throw them straight into the washing machine on a hot water setting. I feel safer being on my unit versus out in the community because we’re all wearing the proper protective gear and the unit is constantly being cleaned.
As advice from someone who has witnessed the devastation COVID-19 causes, please listen to what everyone’s saying. Stay home. Only then can people hopefully stay out of the hospital. If you don’t have to go out, please don’t.
Even though the world seems on hold right now, for health care workers it’s more like business as usual. Caring for our patients in all circumstances is what we’re made for.
Nicole Fishman, RN, is a nurse manager at Huntington Hospital.
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