By Lindsay Finn, BSRT, RRT, RCP
Tension were high even before our first COVID-19 case at CarolinaEast Medical Center. There were so many unknowns and we had no idea what to expect. We are now several months (almost a year) into this pandemic and we are still here. Fighting this silent disease that does not care about your age, gender, or ethnicity.
I am a respiratory therapist who is frequently assigned to the COVID-19 units that contain very complex cases. We run the ventilators, participate in intubation, and provide all respiratory support to these patients. Some days are harder than others. Some do not survive. But the ones that do, the ones that get to go home after weeks on a ventilator is the reason I keep fighting this silent fight. They are the hope that we thrive on.
I have learned so much during this pandemic. Teamwork is the most important component of fighting this pandemic. ICU in particular has stepped up the teamwork and unity more than I ever thought possible. I do not know what I would do without my coworkers. We have cried together, exhausted all options for some of our patients together, literally poured every ounce of strength into our patients, and we continue to hold each other up when it becomes overwhelming. It is truly amazing to have one unit be so supportive of each other and include respiratory.
I don’t think people realize how difficult it is to work in healthcare unless you’ve been there. Some shifts are full of life and happy patients and you feel like you’re making a difference. Other shifts are full of death, chaos, and you question your career choices.
Today was tough. I definitely had a little break down when I got home. But then I remember the good shifts. The shifts where we help bring new life into the world. Or the shifts where we help someone breathe easier. The shifts where family members grab you and wrap you in a hug because you just saved their loved one. The shifts where your coworkers had you laughing so hard that you wheeze and have to use an inhaler because… asthma is real. The feeling after a COVID patient survives and gets to go home to their children after weeks on life support.
Tomorrow is a new day. A new shift. A fresh start.
My COVID-19 story is not over. I never imagined I would work through a pandemic – especially a respiratory pandemic – but I am forever thankful and humble for the opportunity to serve our community. Please wash your hands and stay safe.
For my fellow healthcare workers, you’ve got this. We’ve got this.
Lindsay Finn works in Respiratory Therapy at CarolinaEast Medical Center in New Bern, N.C.