North Memorial Nurse Shares What It’s Like to Work During COVID-19 Pandemic
Mary Turner knows what it’s like to be on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only is she the president of the Minnesota Nurses Association, she’s also a nurse at North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale. Turner says working with COVID-19 patients is tough mentally and physically.
“We’ve been dealing on my floor with COVID, since the beginning of March,” Turner said.
Turner says nurses are navigating uncharted territory trying to keep up with the amount of COVID-19 patients seeking treatment.
“North Memorial in Robbinsdale has anywhere from 13 to 20 percent of all ICU COVID cases in the state,” Turner explained.
North Memorial has four intensive care units (ICUs). Turner says they are filling up.
“Three of our four are being used and have COVID cases. We have nothing but COVID cases on my floor,” said Turner. “We’re going to be up to full capacity where we’ll have all our beds full, I’m sure, within a month.”
Turner Concerned About PPE Supply
The union leader is also worried about the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE).
“I will go back to work tonight and I’ll have my bag with my three or four N-95s that I switch out. I’ll use one tonight and then I won’t use that particular one for 96 hours. That’s how we’re doing it at North, where we rotate them,” Turner said.
She says the days of using PPE for one-time use and then tossing them out is gone.
Turner also says nurses are working longer hours. She says it’s taking a toll, mentally and physically.
“If you become a patient in the ICU, you can’t have any contact with your family. It’s very heartbreaking, emotionally and spiritually draining on the nurses because we’re not only their nurse now, we’re their brother, their sister,” Turner explained. “We’ve had stories of nurses standing in the corner of the room, just sobbing because they are listening to the last words that are being said over the phone to loved ones.”
Turner says people can help nurses by practicing social distancing policies.