April 21, 2020 WCC
Occupation/Title: Patient Care Technician
Place of Work: St Joseph Mercy Hospital-Ann Arbor, Short Stay Unit
WCC Degree in progress: Associate Degree in Nursing
How has your job changed?
I have been a PCT for two years in the Short Stay Unit. I am basically a CNA for the hospital or a nurses’ aide. COVID-19 has shut down our unit. There are not any elective surgeries, nor many medical patients that need to be observed. There are not many heart cath or kidney biopsy patients either. I have been moved to the Emergency Room as a screener of patients (before going into the ER) and employees in the hospital. I am amazed at how the public have been helping us out. The meals, the fabric masks, all of the donations are amazingly helpful. Most visitors and patients are more than understanding of the new rules and really go out of their way to thank the staff for everything that we are doing.
How has your life changed?
It has been stressful moving from my unit that I love. It has also been stressful going home to my family. I would die if I brought this virus home with me. My husband has medical issues that make him high-risk and if he were to get the virus, I’m so afraid. I even have nightmares of people purposefully trying to give me the virus. In order to handle the stress, I started riding my bike and walking more and spending more time alone. The hardest part of this, besides what I already listed, is concentrating on my studies. I can’t focus. I am working, I have three kids at home and they can’t leave the house, all the while my husband is working from an office in our house. Keeping everyone quiet, including animals, is a tremendous juggling act. I have set up a bedroom in the basement so I can semi-quarantine myself. No kisses on my kids face and no more sharing drinks.
What is the hardest thing to deal with?
The hardest part, for me, is watching patients come in who cannot breathe. They are so scared and they are arriving at the ER with a support person. Everyone’s heart breaks when I have to tell them, and even argue with them, that they cannot come into the hospital and be with their loved one. Today, a husband came in and told me, “OK, I’ll go sit in my car while my wife dies alone."
One thing the public should know about healthcare workers?
The hospital is anything but normal right now. Everyone is walking around with surgical masks on, at the minimum. People are afraid to be too close to each other, but, in our jobs, we have to be close to one another.
One thing the public should know about COVID-19?
First, COVID-19 is a terrifying virus, to me. I have had patients arrive not breathing, even when they got in the car themselves when they were just starting to have shortness of breath. The symptoms vary so much that we have to treat everyone as if they are positive. Second, we as employees have each other’s back. It really shows the true caring and compassionate nature of the employees at St. Joes.
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