Back on the Covid Ward, January 2021 - Day One

20/01/21 . Blog

GUEST BLOG: Charlie is a nurse on a ward reopened to respond to the overload of the pandemic. Patients are at the stage before critical care although many need oxygen. These are her shift notes.

OMG, it was good to see Kim there. 

It became fairly obvious that the workforce was made up of redeployed staff: four from paediatrics, two from sexual health. The manager was from endoscopy and someone else also from endoscopy, I think. 

The ward had been closed but opened again due to Covid numbers so no permanent regular staff – never good, that is. Thankfully I had worked on the other Covid ward a few months ago so had a good idea about infection control and stuff. Not everyone did!

Was allocated six patients to look after with Kim. Thankfully she has been there a few weeks already so at least knew the layout. FFS! Already in a panic and I haven’t even started yet.

Patient age range variable - 20-80s. All Covid but not necessarily the cause of their admission. Thought I would try and be organised. Too busy for that. Just try and be safe. Don’t do anything if not sure.

That’s easier said than done, of course, as there was loads to do – drips, catheters, washes, discharge to organise, general care, PEG feeds (a feeding tube that bypasses the throat). Was happy that two had already been washed and one was asleep all morning.

Took ages to do the medications partly because I couldn’t find them. IV drips took ages as I didn’t know how to draw them up. Blood monitoring. Two heart ECGs needed. Think I was trying to be nice too. One poor lady needed TLC – couldn’t give it. Ended up being functional only. Kim left at 3pm. Got Liz to do some observations.

'Completely overwhelmed'

I am completely overwhelmed. These poor patients. They are all very unsafe. No one has time to help. 

I couldn’t access the computer either so had to make notes as I went along. Felt lost, had a cry. Lunch for 20 mins at 4pm.  

Bloody hell, don’t anyone go into hospital. 

Wanted to go home or walk off. Should I complain? What can anyone do about it?  The nurse basically said to me that all we can be is to be safe. Everything else is a bonus.  

In the evening I asked someone to help me do the drugs as I wasn’t managing. Too big a workload. Medication needing to be crushed and put down PEG tubes – it all takes time. Then more IV drips. 

Then people being incontinent. Some needing help with eating etc. It didn’t happen! I feel really upset and I am writing this a day later. 

Bet some big old mistakes are being made every day here. People defo not being looked after properly.

Finished late as there weren’t enough nurses for the night shift. My feet are killing me and I feel… don’t even know what I feel.

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You can also read about Charlie's experience during the first wave in Spring 2020. All names have been changed.

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