The Sacrifice of Healthcare Workers: A look into a Nurse’s Perspective during the Pandemic

Over the past two months, the Coronavirus has taken the United States by storm. With roughly 717,000 confirmed cases nationwide, Massachusetts is the third most affected state with 34,000 confirmed cases.

Left with minimal supplies, hospitals struggle to maintain safe conditions for their healthcare workers.

A close up look at the virus that has shocked the globe. Photo courtesy of Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

“These are extraordinary times—times that call for extraordinary people. Without fanfare, you go beyond your job descriptions to keep our patients and their families, visitors, colleagues, and community safe,” stated the President of Mass General Hospital (MGH) in a letter to his coworkers.

“We fear that it walks into our homes and onto our loved ones. I know some people who have decided to separate themselves from their partners and children to keep them safe,” MGH Pediatric nurse Colleen Brine said.

“The sacrifices being made are unfathomable,” added Brine.

“We are no longer just worried about our patients’ health, we carry that worry home with us in a whole new light,” said Brine.

Brine has been in isolation for 30 days now after testing positive for the virus.

“That means no interaction with other people, no hugs, no one to sit on the couch to watch a movie with,”  explained the nurse.

After successfully getting two negative test results in a row, Colleen Brine will be able to return back to work, where she will immediately be placed on an adult COVID-19 floor.

Hospitals around the state have faced an issue with shortages in N95 masks. These masks are used to protect healthcare workers from contracting the virus from patients.

“We don’t have any confirmed cases within our hospital, so all we wear are paper surgical masks,” Elizabeth Allen, a nurse from Franciscan Children’s Hospital said.

 Photo by Maggie Allen.
Pictured is an N95 mask, a mask that is being used by COVID-19 healthcare workers to protect themselves from exposure. Photo by Maggie Allen.

“After a twelve-hour shift, you can start to feel the straps digging into your ears,” she added.

Although there are no confirmed cases from patients at Franciscan, 10 nurses have already tested positive for the virus.

Allen’s roommate, Brooke Stampfl, is a nurse at Tufts Medical Center. Typically working in the cardiac ICU, Stampfl has been floated to a COVID-19 floor.

Stampfl, along with her colleagues, is required to wear an  N95 mask.

“It is difficult to not see family or friends, but us essential workers are making huge sacrifices to try to protect and care for our neighbors and we hope that everyone else is doing the same,” Brine said.