“Working in the hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic has not been easy, especially for someone who is fresh out of college and has only been a registered nurse for 3 months. One thing that has made the experience more bearable is team work. With every shift, I see how our administration and leadership work tirelessly together to advocate for the best patient care while keeping the staff protected. As team members we hold each other accountable to ensure that proper personal protective equipment is always donned as we understand that our attitude and actions do not only affect our colleagues and the patient we care for, but rather the whole community.
One of the hardest days was the first time I took care of a patient who was being tested for COVID-19. I felt like my faith was being tested. Going into the room to provide care, I imagined how the patient might have felt in solitude while being kept away from everyone else as a preventative measure. Like what I try to do with all my patients who are alert, I was friendly and told a few jokes here and there. It took the patient a little while to warm up to me, and before I knew it, we were both telling jokes and laughing so hard. Yet in all that laughter, I still had to be mindful of my N95 mask to ensure the airtight seal stayed in place.
This featured photograph is of me and my preceptor right after spending 45 minutes with a patient being treated for COVID-19 who was on a ventilator. We had just administered medications, did blood draw, and ensured that the patient was bathed and clean as the patient was under sedation. In doing all these things, you try to be as fast as you can, trying not to breathe too much because subconsciously you are wondering about the effectiveness of the N95 mask you are wearing, after using and reusing it all morning against suggested regulations, given the shortage of PPE during the pandemic. And as you leave the room, you pray that the patient does not go into cardiopulmonary arrest.
Scary as it may be at times, I thank God for the opportunity to take care of someone at the verge of death; without their family being permitted to be with them in the hospital, you, the nurse, become their hands, their family, friend, confidante and advocate as you fight for their life and hope for a miracle. With that attitude you go home hoping you did not catch the virus, and you return the next day, taking a deep breath ready or not for your next shift to do it all over again.”
Tatenda Makuvatsine is a USAP alum who attended Mazoe High School and then graduated from Lander University where he was a Mufuka Scholar.