My First COVID patient

That day I came in, I was nervous and scared as to what to expect…

My name is Cyra, and I'm a registered nurse at Lancaster General Hospital.

I’d like to share a story about my first COVID patient, David.

At this point you didn’t know how the virus was being transmitted. It was obviously nerve wracking and we weren't really sure what to expect, how fast we were going to peak, and how everything was going to be. Everyone was being cautious and wearing N95’s and wearing PAPRs [powered air-purifying respirators] and all that. What if protective equipment actually didn’t protect you from it?

That day I came in, of course I was nervous and scared as to what to expect especially since David was very young. And I was surprised because he was in his 40s. You could tell that he's able to walk, he's able to do everything independently, but at that moment he couldn't do anything. And there is barely anything I could do. So a lot of the anxiety was knowing that I had to care for someone that I didn't know how to care for.

On our floor the nurses drove everything. We didn't have housekeepers, we didn't have aides, we didn't have respiratory therapists or anyone. So basically we were trained to do everything our patients would need.

Just the garbing part of our PPE [personal protective equipment] was very nerve wracking already. The hospital was pretty strict about donning and doffing. I had to make sure that I was going to be prepared for it, and I was going to be protected.

The first time I actually went in his room I spent about an hour and a half in there, you know making sure he was OK, giving him his tray for food, cleaning his room making sure he showered and all that. So while he was washing up, I was wiping down his room, and making sure it was nice and clean and tidy. And I got to know my patient.

I feel like at that moment my patient also had more anxiety than me. His family wasn't there. No one is allowed to visit. You feel very isolated in a room and you're not sure about what's going on, because you just see it on TV and it's happening to you.

I just figured my job would be to make him comfortable and make sure that he knows that there are people around him, and that we’re there to help them. There is no one else on our floor, there was no one else he could talk to. I was the only person coming into his room besides one other doctor who was there 10 minutes once a day. We built our relationship on what we were both facing.

That day that he left, I actually wasn't his nurse. but I saw him roll out of our unit and I realized that he couldn't even recognize me having my PPE on. And that didn't make any difference to how I felt, because I know that I had made a difference in his life, and he had made a difference in mine.

With this pandemic that we're dealing with, with everything going on, it's the relationships that will help us get through.