“This crisis has made us one big family”

Fay is a nurse in an Emergency Department. She is witnessing first hand, the devastation that Covid-19 is wrecking on individuals, families and friends. But in the midst of this crisis, she has found support, care and solidarity – and the occasional biscuit donation. Here she describes her less than typical day, dealing with Coronavirus head on.

Please could you briefly explain what you do?

I’m an Emergency Department nurse. My main role is to stabilise and treat critically ill patients with life threatening condition or injuries.

How has the Coronavirus impacted your day to day job?

Being in ED, Coronavirus has completely changed my department. While most people are thinking twice before visit to hospital, those who do are more critically unwell and are all treated as Covid patients for safety reasons. This means we are all required to wear surgical masks, aprons and gloves with every patient, which can sometimes makes communication difficult.

Our newly created Covid assessment unit has become more and more part of my everyday role within the hospital. This is were members of the community come to be assessed and if patients showing any symptoms of Coronavirus, they are brought for assessment and treatment before being admitted.

What key changes have you made to your day to day life?

At the start of the Coronavirus outbreak we were (and still are) briefed on a daily basis. It was an awful atmosphere of in-trepidation at the beginning – that we were waiting for the brunt of the virus to hit and not truly knowing when it was actually going to happen, and how bad it would be.

It was an incredibly worrying time. Both myself and a number of my colleagues had difficulty sleeping. The only way I could explain it to my husband was…knowing you’re going to be ambushed and just sitting waiting for it to happen.

Due to the nature of my current role, I have not seen my elderly parents and my sister, since mid February. This has been very difficult at the moment as my mum is recovering after breast cancer surgery.

Because, I am more exposed to patients with potential Coronavirus, I am incredibly aware of what I am doing, and the risk I pose for others.

Have you witnessed any human stories you would like to share i.e. kindness, support etc?

The general public have been fantastic, we have had donations of biscuits, tea and coffee, food and hand cream which has been amazing. This is especially welcomed when working in the Covid area of ED as we are unable to leave to visit the canteen or cafe due to infection control.

The way this crisis has pulled together the wider hospital was something I had not expected. I have worked with doctors and nurses from other areas and wards that I wouldn’t normally work with. This has given me a chance to learn new skills and information from specialists teams which would not normal happen. I hope it’s also made working in ED a less intimidating place – some of the ward staff have said they were really scared about being sent to our area. This crisis has made us a big family.

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