The coronavirus has changed how we live our lives, and it’s also reminding us how important our health care workers are. COVID-19 patients, or people with COVID-19 symptoms, are staying in two areas of Comanche County Memorial Hospital when they’re admitted. Robin House, the Director of Critical Care and Respiratory Therapy, said the patients are either on the 4th floor or in ICU north when they become critically ill.
“Teamwork is really, really important,” House said. “Because when these patients go bad, they can go bad really quickly and so that has to be a team effort for them to be able to call and say ‘hey, I need a bed’ and so we can get them to the ICU.”
Coronavirus patents are sent to the ICU when their oxygenation level gets bad.
“They’re taking care of the sickest patients that we have in the hospital that come down to the ICU,” House said. “They do a very good job. They’re the most experienced critical care nurses that we have.”
Some of the patients brought to ICU north have to be put on ventilators. One of those people brought in when they have to use a ventilator is Kathy Goin. She’s the Manager of Respiratory Department at CCMH.
“The ventilator, a lot of times, is when somebody is so sick it allows us to let them completely relax and rest,” Goin said. “So, we’re able to put them on the ventilator and let this do everything for them, so their body can just rest until we can get them well again.”
This means that respiratory therapists are right next to doctors and nurses working the frontline during this pandemic.
“We are the ones to continually monitor them when they’re on the ventilator,” Goin said. “We have to do, every two hours, we’re checking our ventilators for these patients. If there’s anything that changes, we’re able to manipulate anything to do what these lungs need to be doing.”
Goin said making sure they’re properly protected from the virus has changed their workflow some. They have to put the gear on before they check on each patient and take it off and put new gear before they go to the next room.
“We also put humidification on these ventilators to help the secretion process with the patients…to thin those out,” Goin said. “A lot of them start with a dry cough and they’re having a lot of mucus, so the humidification is helping break that down and so we can get that out of their lungs.”
While they’re focused on getting the patient well, it can be hard on them too. Especially when they can’t let family and friends visit their loved one.
“It doesn’t touch home until you have a family, or a friend, or your own family and you feel like they’re up here by themselves having to deal with this alone,” Goin said. “So, that’s the most successful part for all of us is getting them well again and back with their families.”
House said while families can’t visit patients with coronavirus, they’re working on ways to let them visit the end of life and comfort care patients to include video conferencing.