I’m a nurse at a small, Rocks and Cows, town nursing home. I’ve been there 6 years. Some staff and residents have been there much longer than me. We have wonderful dedicated staff in all departments who love our residents. We know our residents, their spouses, their children and grand children. They ask after our families. Its intimate work caring for our elderly community.
We have been guarding a long time now against the invisible monster of COVID. It seemed far away and for months we suited up in our armor of masks, goggles, and shields. We washed our hands and used gallons of hand sanitizer. We made sure to “smile with our eyes” so our residents wouldn’t be afraid of our masked faces. We closed our doors, kept their families and friends out to protect them.
It wasn’t enough. Covid got in. First a trickle then a tidal wave. Infecting residents and staff alike. Staffing became sparse just when our residents, sick, and without their families needed us the most.
They struggle to breathe and there is little we can actually do. Families afraid of bringing it into there homes, shiver outside in the cold watching their loved ones through the windows. I put my hand to the glass but cannot offer any further comfort as I would have in the past and I go on to the next room.
We added gowns, gloves, and booties but still my fellow caregivers fall ill. My residents die, without their hands being held by loved ones. They go fast, their immune response to the virus filling their lungs with fluid. Yes they may have been frail but they had more time. More stories to tell. More jokes to make. More songs to sing. More hugs to give. The men are losing the battle faster than the women.
Hard to prosses the loss, to say goodbye when when they decline and lose the battle one after another, after another. No time to mourn, the rest still need you.
Our hearts are broken and the work is hard, the lack of staff causes chaos as we try to fill the holes with nurses sent from the state. We try and manage this crisis by moving folks around. Keep the sick and the healthy separated. But I see the frustration of my residents as what is familiar is taken from them, some understand what is happening better than others. The residents are both scared and resigned. My coworkers, are sad, stressed, and overworked. Management struggling to help us follow the ever changing guidelines.
We are all carrying the weight of this on and off the clock.
I work in a nursing home but there used to be joy here. Even in death because that happens here. Before covid, families came when it was time. We gave good care to their loved one. We offered them comfort, cookies, and hugs. We sat with them as they loved their spouses, parents, and grandparents through this life and into the next. And it was sad and sometimes we cry with them but there was beauty and peace in it as well. Death is part of life. This is not like that and it makes me broken in ways I can’t explain.
Please pray for us.