Strain on Healthcare: Nurses talk about working on the COVID-19 floor

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BECKLEY, WV (WVNS)– Healthcare workers never know what the work day could bring. In 2020 when COVID-19 hit, the pandemic sent them into unknown territory.

“At first we didn’t know what equipment we were going to need, what we were going to have available. You hear all these stories about ‘we’re going to run out of this, or we’re going to run out of that’,” Traci Flint, Registered Charge Nurse at Raleigh General Hospital, said.

At Raleigh General Hospital they turned the 4 North floor into the COVID floor. Director of 4 North, Tammy Womack, said no matter how much experience you have it doesn’t prepare you for what they handled this past year.

“One of our nurses is a brand-new nurse, and she’s had to come to my office and cry because of not seeing as much illness, people as sick as what the COVID has been at times,” Womack said.

“This was the one that really scared us all because we knew what they were saying on the news, we knew how many had already died from it. So, I think it scared us worse then anything we had ever dealt with,” Tammy Pritt, License Practical Nurse at RGH, said.

Families were not able to visit family members in the hospital because of fear of spreading the virus, so the nurses got creative, finding ways to bring those families together. Flint said it’s hard to see patients isolated from loved ones.

“I remember a patient telling me that when he was getting plasma that this is the most contact he’s had with anybody since he’s been here,” Flint said. “He was just like, ‘you can stay here as long as you can’ because he hasn’t had that much contact with people.”

Nurses 59 News spoke with said the hardest thing for them to face in 2020 were all the deaths.

“You see young people passing away and there is nothing that you can do, and you just don’t understand why,” Pritt said.

“Seeing so much death, and the death has not just been elderly but seeing younger people die, it’s been really hard,” Womack said.

What started as fear is now anger.

“They don’t understand what we have dealt with. That day when you have to call a patient’s family and say your 35-year-old son passed away, and then you’ve got somebody saying ‘this is not real’. It causes a lot of anger and a lot of emotions,” Pritt said.

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