A Story from the Front Line of COVID-19

May 11, 2020 | Travel Nursing

LRS Healthcare medical travelers all across the U.S. are caring for COVID-19 patients, protecting their coworkers and working tirelessly to keep everyone safe. Some of our team members are working in COVID-19 units and some are maintaining other departments, but all are directly impacted by this pandemic.

The strength our medical travelers show through the hardship they experience every day is incredible. You’re the heart of the LRS family. Your stories from the front lines of COVID-19 deserve to be told—heartbreak, hope and all.

Zee Khan, an LRS traveler and a phlebotomist, shared what COVID-19 looks like through her eyes:

“When the pandemic started, ambulance stretchers lined down the block of our hospital and our waiting room was jam-packed with patients coughing COVID-19 onto each other. Now, there’s basically no room to take any more patients.

“At the beginning, it felt like I was standing on the shore looking at a tsunami. It’s now my second month as a traveler in a COVID unit and honestly, I was not OK. I typically can handle almost everything. I’m not usually vulnerable or scared like this—definitely not on the internet—but I need to share my experience, particularly my past few days.

“I ran out of masks. My masks were stolen from the hospital. I had to reuse my PPE, my gown and my N95. And it’s not okay to reuse an N95 mask from patient to patient—that’s cross-contamination. I had to double-mask my face for my 8–16 hour shift. I wasn’t sleeping enough and kept taking all calls to come in to work as staff started getting sick. I was terrified of going into a COVID-19 patient’s room, but I had to help them. I signed up to save lives. So I did what I had to do with less PPE.

“I had this one particular COVID-19 patient: He was very polite and always very talkative. We would have our daily chat as I drew his morning labs. One morning, his wife and daughter were standing outside his window and waiting for him to wake up. They couldn’t go in the room to see him, but they would write notes back and forth and FaceTime.

“As I was leaving his room that day, he started crying. I asked if he was crying because he was in pain and he said, ‘No, but I am afraid. I’m scared that I won’t make it and I won’t be able to see my little girl and my family. This COVID is going to take me away from my family.’

“At this point, he had me in tears too. But I said, ‘No, we’re going to do our best to help you. We have to stay strong. We can do this together.’

“He asked me to stay and say a prayer with him. After we prayed together, he felt more calm, but I could tell he was still worried. A couple of hours later, I heard a page going off in his room and my heart just sank. I didn’t want to go in, but I had to respond to his code. As I went into his room, I prayed and prayed.

“Within a few more hours, he went into respiratory arrest—no breathing. Fifteen other healthcare workers and I were in his room doing everything in our power to save him: CPR, intubation, defibrillation. Doctors were on the phone letting his wife know that he may not  make it, but we were doing our best. Then, we had no pulse on him.

“This man wasn’t supposed to die over the course of just a few hours. He wasn’t supposed to die alone. The only ones allowed with him were us healthcare workers. FaceTiming his family was very painful.

“The worst part of COVID-19 is watching families get isolated from their sick loved ones. I’m not sure I’m accurately putting into words how I feel, but I pray to God that no one has to experience this again.

“If you learn anything from this pandemic, know that patients are not animals and healthcare workers are not robots. If you are blessed enough to be able to self-quarantine, PLEASE DO. I can only speak for myself, but this isn’t supposed to be happening—not to the patients or the healthcare workers.

“These patients are not just a number on TV. They’re real people who just want to see their families. Please give your medical professionals some grace as we figure this out. We all have unique roles to play, and we are confident that together we can be successful—and we won’t rest until we are.

“Stay home and stay safe.”

The days are long, exhausting and heartbreaking for so many medical professionals right now, but we have each other and we have hope.

Thank you, LRS family. And thank you, Zee, for sharing your story with honesty and care. We are so proud of everything you all do.