As a nurse I feel COVID-19 is changing the way we interact with our patients. We are taught to be compassionate, look our patients in the eyes, sit down and talk with them, learn about their family, and hold their hand to provide a human touch. These are all qualities that make a nurse a nurse.
With COVID-19, we now have to wear a full barrier of personal protective equipment at all times, limiting the personal touch we were taught to provide. We must limit time and interactions with patients to prevent our own exposure to the virus. We are busy trying to keep the patient alive, so asking about their loved ones is out of the question. We are so engulfed by this peculiar virus “AKA The Beast” that our brain power is being shifted into a completely different dimension. A dimension where we live in constant “fight or flight” mode; But a nurse always fights.
I want to remind nurses not to worry and not to fret! We were built for this moment. We have the expertise. We know how to effectively communicate with our patients and our team mates. And most of all we KNOW how to be safe. In these unprecedented moments we have to take a deep breath, look this beast in the eye and KNOW that we will overcome it.
No, we will not be able to save each and every one of our patients. No, we will not be able to hold them by the hand, skin to skin and tell them that everything is going to be alright. No, we may not have the time to learn about their new grandchild who was just born. But at least once a shift we must make time to let them know that we understand they are human and not just a body in a bed. Take a moment early in the shift to look them in the eye and call them by their name and be sure that they know our name too. We must let them know at least once in our shift that we are going to do everything we can to help them through this! This will give them the faith and strength that they need right now. We cannot forget to engage in our basic nursing principles.
Do not lose your ability to comfort your patient in these times. All of these actions will take you no more than 45 seconds but they will touch your patient for life. We walk into the hospital everyday leaving behind our families, our lives and our fears to be by our patients’ side. Let’s make sure that we always make the best of it by providing the nurses’ touch.
Victoria Randle NP-C
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