“Looking back on these past weeks, I can honestly say this has been one of my most difficult times in my 12 years working as a nurse,” says Dana Fedor, ICU nurse at VGH. “I have experienced every emotion humanly possible: fear, sadness, anger, pride, love. I have worked late and arrived home physically and mentally exhausted.”

But, despite it all, Dana can honestly say there is nowhere she would rather be than on the front lines against COVID-19, helping patients at their most vulnerable.

“Some of the sickest patients will be in the main COVID Unit receiving continuous renal repairment therapy,” says Dana. “This is dialysis that is ongoing. But the main concern is generally the lungs.”

Using every tool at their disposal

Many patients are intubated and connected to a ventilator. Many go into renal failure, and if they have pre-existing kidney problems those chances are increased.

There’s also a lot of equipment in a patient’s room: ventilator, dialysis machines as needed, a number of IV pumps. Nurses are getting creative in optimizing how often they need to enter a patient’s room by using extension tubing to keep IV pumps outside the room instead, saving time and precious PPE.

“One of our nurses researched using extension tubing to keep pumps outside the patient’s room to limit exposure,” says Dana. “A number of these sick patients are under a lot of infusions. So that’s a great idea to keep the IV pumps safely outside of the room.”

Reaching a last resort

While the COVID-19 infected patient awaits the results of the testing being conducted at Dr. Wellington’s lab, he faces the reality that the disease is continuing to damage his system.

His breathing has become increasingly labored. He can barely pull in enough oxygen on his own. He needs breathing support – now.

The ICU nurses bring in the Respiratory Therapists – the experts who help treat every COVID-19 patient at VGH in respiratory distress.

The patient has read the news. He knows about the ventilators being used as a “last resort” to ensure breathing continues. After this, he doesn’t know if there are any other options.

He is intubated and given the oxygen his body needs to carry on this fight. What he doesn’t know yet is that his results have just been received from the lab. And this information will turn the tide. Continue reading.

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