USA: ”Nursing is in a revolution in this country, and it’s about time”
corona pandemic

USA: ”Nursing is in a revolution in this country, and it’s about time”

Ashley Barnes and her colleagues in New York are done with being constantly short-staffed and devalued. They demand retention bonuses and more respect - otherwise they will walk out of the hospitals.

22 oktober

I was not working the day my hospital received its first covid patient but I heard through coworkers that covid was now in New York City. Within 24 hours our ICU was turned into a covid ICU, but given that nobody knew what this virus could do, we had no way of predicting what was to come.

We quickly learned what protective equipment to use, how to put it on, and hoped for the best. In comparison to many facilities, we did have good equipment. However, throughout the peak of the pandemic, a few items did run low.

I remember a patient that was intubated and connected to a ventilator. She was not given the proper sedation. Out of nowhere she almost pushed the tube out of her mouth. I ran in without my protective equipment and she ended up coughing profusely. The drops of her saliva landed on my face and in my eye. I connected her tube and ran out of the room shaking. One of my best friends and coworkers, who does not show his vulnerability easily, came to me with tears in his eyes that he had just seen this.

ashley barnes

  • Age: 39.
  • Workplace: Contract nurse in NYC
  • Salary: Approximately SEK 153 000 per month
  • Qualifications: Bachelors of Psyhcology from University of Georgia, Bachelors of Nursing from Concordia College New York

I stopped, bent over, and told myself that this part of nursing is going to be just as much about me as my patients, and I do come first. Or have to try.

My unit was the worst in April. Patient dying one after the other and very quickly. The interventions that usually work, just were not. My coworkers were incredible. We would hug one another and just knowing we all were in the same experience made it bearable.

The doctors were amazing but they could do a great deal from the computers outside the room. There was a time doctors just kept putting orders in one after the other, and throwing us in the rooms. This was a time, that I felt completely devalued as a nurse but more so, as a living person.

Currently, with covid patients, doctors have learned to cluster whatever needs to be done in an organized pattern in the day or whenever is absolutely necessary.

There are still some covic patients on my current ICU unit, however a great many less than the rest of the country. New York City came together, followed the rules, and got the numbers down to some of the best in the country. Once the epicenter and a place where 800 patients died in one night, is now one of the safer cities to be in for covid. New York amazed me and I am so grateful.

There are some states, including New York, that have a vaccine mandate now. We have lost a few nurses at my current hospital due to this. I do think it is causing a divide in the nursing world as there are nurses who believe that we should all be on the same side of this.

Nursing has changed a great deal already. Many nurses, including myself, have left being staff at a hospital and started travel nursing. We are being compensated a great amount of money to take temporary contracts. However, the biggest reason we are leaving staff nursing is that we are constantly short-staffed and devalued. Many nurses are finished with it. It just takes the head CEO of the hospital to offer retention bonuses and more respect to nurses to make them stay. However, they are not doing that. Nurses are done, as they should be. I think nursing is in a revolution in this country, and it is about time.

Interviewer: Jonatan Westin

corona in USA

Cases: 43 227 604

Deaths: 692 969

Deaths/100K: 211,1

Fully vaccinated: 55,1%

Source: Johns Hopkins University and Ourworldindata, 30 September 2021.

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