Amy Walsh is a registered nurse at Wake Forest Baptist Health – Wilkes Medical Center and a charge nurse in the hospital’s critical care unit.
She said that since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, “every day is mentally and physically challenging” and involves complete focus and constant collaboration with physicians to ensure that her patients consistently receive safe and effective care.
Walsh is grateful for her team as they lean on each other for support during difficult times. “We laugh and cry together, which helps us deal with the stress,” she said. “I couldn’t do it without them.”
She said that keeping her family safe has always been a priority, even before COVID-19, but now, it’s more important than ever. “I pray for the health and safety of my family,” she said. “I worry about my parents and in-laws, so I have been practicing social distancing from them in order to keep them safe.”
Walsh said she does all she can to keep herself healthy, including taking vitamins, wearing her personal protective equipment (PPE) correctly while at work, wearing a mask and washing her hands. “You can never wash your hands too much,” she said, adding that hand washing was ingrained in her from her first day of nursing school. “In addition, I always have hand sanitizer readily available and I shower as soon as I get home to help protect my husband the best I can.”
Patients who have positive outcomes naturally make Walsh and her colleagues happy. She remembers one patient in particular. “I discharged a patient and she thanked me for taking such good care of her and then she told me that she loved me.”
While she wants all of her patients to have a good outcome, that’s not always the reality, she said. “It’s always very difficult when we have a husband and wife or siblings at the same time.”
Walsh said it’s heartbreaking to see a patient start to improve, but then experience complications. When patients are near the end of their life, she said, “The most important thing we can do at that point is to make them as comfortable as possible and provide emotional support to their family as they spend their last moments with their loved one.”
She feels that for the foreseeable future, wearing PPE for the majority of her nursing shift will be the norm, along with concerns about nurse burnout and the worry of bringing COVID-19 home to her family.
“COVID-19 is real and I see it every day at work,” she said. “I’m asking everyone to take this seriously and take the necessary precautions to keep themselves and their loved ones protected.”