NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Health care heroes continue to share their stores from the front lines in the fight against coronavirus.
CBS2’s Jessica Moore spoke with an ICU nurse about her hospital’s struggle to treat patients without the supplies they desperately need.
The end of maternity leave meant a rude awakening for Vivi Guitart, a critical care ICU nurse at a Brooklyn hospital.
“My first day back was really overwhelming. My unit was completely covered in plastic trash bags to protect the unit from patients who are COVID positive,” Guitart told Moore. “Panic set in realizing how real this was and the risk I was taking going to work and bringing this home to my baby.”
Guitart made the heartbreaking decision to send her 3-month-old baby to another state to live with her sister while she stays on the front line treating critically-ill coronavirus patients.
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She described her once relatively peaceful ICU as a war zone and she and her fellow nurses as soldiers without the ammunition to fight the enemy.
“This must be what it’s like during wartime,” she said. “I’m just focused on trying to keep them alive.”
Each nurse is given a single mask to use. They’re now being asked to reuse them for up to a week.
Visits to patients’ rooms are severely limited to decrease exposure.
“We are all frantic in the morning. We come into work, we’re given a bag with a jumpsuit that we can wear for the day. If you’re last to show up, sometimes there’s not a jumpsuit anymore,” she said. “So you’re always scrambling and nervous and hoping you get everything you need.
“Right now the just the turnover is if someone passed away, alright, get the room clean. Next person in immediately.
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“Right now the just the turnover is if someone passed away, alright, get the room clean. Next person in immediately,” said Guitart. “I mean, there are patients sitting the ER on ventilators waiting to come up. There’s just no break.”
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“We’re just not able to care for the patients the way we’re used to. We really need better supplies and more of them, because people are dying and it’s not right,” she added.
Guitart said she wishes Gov. Andrew Cuomo would come see what hospitals like hers are dealing with, as nurses and doctors risk their own lives to save others.