Posted: Dec 31, 2020 6:10 pm
by Seabass
“Those of Us Who Don’t Die Are Going to Quit”: A Crush of Patients, Dwindling Supplies and the Nurse Who Lost Hope

Almost a year into the pandemic, supply shortages remain so severe that nurse Kristen Cline reuses her N95 for several shifts while her hospital buckles, patients suffer and folks nearby socialize maskless as if the pandemic were already over.


Nurse Kristen Cline was working a 12-hour shift in October at the Royal C. Johnson Veterans Memorial Hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, when a code blue rang through the halls. A patient in an isolation room was dying of a coronavirus that had raged for eight months across the country before it made the state the brightest red dot in a nation of hot spots.

Cline knew she needed to protect herself before entering the room, where a second COVID-19 patient was trembling under the covers, sobbing. She reached for the crinkled and dirty N95 mask she had reused for days.

In her post-death report, Cline described how the patient fell victim to a hospital in chaos. The crash cart and breathing bag that should have been in the room were missing. The patient wasn’t tethered to monitors that could have alerted nurses sooner. He had cried out for help, but the duty nurse was busy with other patients, packed two to a room meant for one.

“He died scared and alone. It didn’t have to be that way. We failed him — not the staff, we did everything we could,” she said. “The system failed him.”

The system also failed her. Since the pandemic’s early weeks, Cline had complained that the Department of Veterans Affairs, which runs the nation’s largest hospital system, wasn’t doing enough to protect its front-line health care workers. She had filed complaints about inadequate personal protective equipment with the agency’s inspector general and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, but they had done nothing. Many months into a pandemic, they were still having to ration masks and being asked to reuse them for as many as five shifts.



continued:
https://www.propublica.org/article/those-of-us-who-dont-die-are-going-to-quit-a-crush-of-patients-dwindling-supplies-and-the-nurse-who-lost-hope