Originally posted July 29, 2020
On Shirley Ryan AbilityLab's 20th Floor, the staff working on the COVID Care Unit help patients who have progressed from the acute phase of COVID-19, and need assistance recovering strength, endurance and functional independence.
The unit includes the hospital's extraordinary, Magnet-recognized nursing team — including Sarah Mulroe, RN, who has been a member of our organization since January 2018.
5 a.m. I make coffee and feed my dog. We go outside for a long walk that ends at the dog park. The routine helps me wake up, and tires out my pup until my sister comes over to play with her. Until then, I queue up a few true-crime podcasts, and leave my dog with a bone to keep her occupied, and walk to work.
6:20 a.m. At the hospital, I throw my lunch in the fridge and gear up for a good day. I put on my mask, goggles, and gown; it is already quite toasty with all the added layers. I get a report from the outgoing nurse, see all my patients, and check their orders and schedules for the day. I disinfect my med cart and pull out the morning meds.
7:20 a.m. Patient food trays are up, and I go get them over by the elevator. I pass them out and set everyone up to eat. It goes a lot quicker when everyone works together, and I really appreciate the teamwork on our unit. All the patients get their trays in a timely manner. Shout-out to speech-language pathologist Kate Webler who is always helping when she sees the trays delivered!
7:45 a.m. I pass my meds and get patients dressed and ready for therapy, making sure they have used the bathroom and are ready for a great day. As one of my patients says, “Happy new day!”
9:30 a.m. While everyone is in their morning sessions, I get a call from a family member asking for an update on their dad. It has to be hard not being able to have a visitor here who can pass on information to the rest of the family, especially for patients who are unable to communicate.
10:45 a.m. I prep for a virtual family education session. It takes some time because there is a lot to teach this patient’s family for him to go home safely.
11:30 a.m. Before lunch, a patient is excited to show off his new transfer. He no longer needs the lift and is pretty excited about it. I help him transfer to bed to rest between his therapy sessions.
Noon Lunch is the same routine as breakfast: passing trays, setting up patients, and making sure they get their medications and are toileted before their afternoon therapy sessions.
1:30 p.m. I take my lunch break. It’s nice to peel off the gown and take off my mask to drink some water and eat my lunch. Eating while looking out at the boats is quite calming. I refill my water and chug it before gearing up again to go back on the unit. I miss my water bottle being with me all day.
2:30 p.m. I pass some afternoon meds and do more wound dressing changes — we have been seeing a lot of bad wounds from many patients’ prolonged immobilization.
3 p.m. I lead that virtual family education session. We cover a lot of meds and safety and injury/wound prevention for when the patient goes home. It is somewhat difficult because it is hard to show and go over some of the papers while I hold the ed materials up to the camera. Teaching goes well though; we have a good discussion. I am the last education session on the family’s schedule, so I leave the iPad with the patient so they can have a group Zoom.
3:30 p.m. I go to another patient who is done with therapy and walk with him. He wants to sit in the Vista and look at the water. I can’t imagine not being outside in three months. I wish the windows could open for him to breathe some fresh air.
3:45 p.m. I have to use the bathroom, so I de-gown. While I am in the bathroom, I take my mask off for a minute and get some “fresh air” myself — at least, as fresh as it can be in a bathroom.
5 p.m. The afternoon is wrapping up. I pull out the dinnertime medications, and a few patients want to get ready to shower. Others want to get in a gown in bed. When trays come up, it’s the same meal routine.
7 p.m. After giving my report to the evening shift, I disinfect everything, change into my street clothes and walk home to shower and drink more water so I don't feel like a dehydrated raisin.
7:30 p.m. My sister and I sit on my brother’s balcony. We enjoy some fresh air while he makes us dinner — this is not an everyday occurrence, but is so appreciated today!