For those of you who have been following me, you know I work on a cardiac PCU. My unit has recently been converted to the COVID-19 PCU and our friends across the hall at the CCU have been converted to the COVID-19 ICU. These are scary times, friends. However, do not panic. Staying informed on the pandemic with medically-supported material will help us navigate through this.

Here is my update live from the frontline:

1. This is not a hoax. Please follow quarantine orders.

This novel virus targets ANYONE. While the immunocompromised, adults with co-morbidities, and the very old are most at risks for complications and death, we have been seeing perfectly young adults become severely ill… and some have died. You may be an asymptomatic carrier, you may develop mild symptoms (most of the population), or you may develop symptoms requiring hospitalization. We just don’t know so it is best to isolate to not only help flatten the cure, but also to prevent putting anyone you know at risk if you are indeed an asymptomatic carrier.

2. Handling COVID-19 as a HCW

Well, we are all aware of the PPE shortage. China one of our main import partners for PPE was attacked first. This not only affected our ability to stock up, but people decided to wipe out available supplies in the country as well. Every hospital’s protocol will be different based on available supplies. I am currently having to re-use face shields, goggles, and N95s. Unless patients are undergoing aerosolizing procedures, we are not using N95s. This topic is currently up for debate between WHO, CDC, and Nurse/Physician organizations. While most of us feel more comfortable wearing N95s (or full suits like in China and Italy if they were available), this is what most hospitals in the US are currently abiding by. Do your best to prevent contamination with your available PPE. If you are not provided PPE, contact your union rep (or designated supervisor if you’re not in a union) IMMEDIATELY! We are not martyrs. Do NOT feel like you need to be. If you have access to N95s, I would certainly bring your own and wear it at work to feel more safe. If you meet resistance from your management, again contact your rep IMMEDIATELY.

3. New Grads being called to the front lines

I know many of you are eager to work, but please know that a new grad needs so much support, training, and education during that first year. With the current situation and resources, that may not be possible for you where you are accepting a new position. Please make sure to confirm you will have an orientation, adequate PPE, and adequate training. I know you want to help, but it is not worth losing your license (that you worked so hard for) or worse…. your life.

4. Symptoms

The most common symptoms that are published are: fever, persistent cough, and sore throat. However, new research has come out suggesting some develop, nausea, anosmia, and anorexia prior to the above symptoms. If you have any of the above, trouble breathing, or any suspicion you may be infected, please contact your PCP or designated county testing facilities. You will likely be screened and tested if necessary. Testing kits are also in short supply so not everyone will be tested. I urge you to push to be tested if you meet push back and have significant symptoms.

5. Prevention

  • Stay home from work if you are a HCW and have any symptoms
  • Frequent hand-washing or hand sanitizer (alcohol 65%+) use
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Use a surgical mask when going in public to prevent inhaling infectious droplets or spreading infectious droplets if you are an asymptomatic carrier (Note: This does not mean buy a year’s supply of masks since HCW are very short on supplies.)
  • Stay home if you have any symptoms at all!
  • Frequently sanitize touched objects or surfaces
  • Avoid travel, gatherings, and any non-essential interactions that require you to be less than 6 feet from someone.

6. Resources/Donations

Please visit the below sites for up-to-date information on COVID-19. The last link is to donate any PPE to UCSD.

Osmosis Video About COVID-19

NNU COVID-19 Website

California Department of Public Health COVID-19 Website

CDC COVID-19 Website

WHO COVID-19 Website

UCSD COVID-19 Website

UCSD Donation Page

Feel free to ask any questions in the comments below. Stay safe, friends!

– Bri