RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — VCU Health made a video of doctors and nurses sharing their experiences with treating COVID-19 patients. Throughout the video they discuss how patients hospitalized for the virus will have to spend the holidays completely alone this year with their families only receiving updates via phone call or video chat.
“It just breaks my heart that some of these people might die alone,” said Joy Wolf, a nurse in the COVID ICU, one of several local frontline workers featured in this telling video that urges people to recognize the risks of the deadly virus.
These health care workers have been caring for patients this March but as the commonwealth heads into the winter, cases have begun to skyrocket.
“We need the community to be a part of our team,” said Dr. Lisa Brath medical director of respiratory care services and medical director of the Unique Pathogens Unit at VCU Health.
Brath says she was shocked by how quickly people got sick after getting to the hospital. She said many patients had be transferred to ICU after just a short time in their care.
The video goes on to explain the process the staff goes through to properly protect themselves from the virus. Each worker puts on a mask, gown, face shield and gloves at the start of their shift. Some even add shoe covers and hair nets for extra protection.
Multiple essential workers shared their fears of bringing the virus home and spreading it to loved ones. Doctors Danielle Gong and Stephen Miller are among those detailing the dire straits they face.
“Every patient that comes in with shortness of breath, you know, have an additional disease to think about,” Gong said.
“I have young kids, I have a wife that’s a school teacher.” says Miller.
Dr. Gong says that many of her patients are scared as well. They fear being one of the people that die from the disease. According to the VDH, close to 4,000 lives have been taken by the virus in Virginia.
The video takes an especially emotional turn when the doctors and nurses talk about caring for people without family and loved ones at their bedside. Medical Respiratory nurse, Audrey Roberson says to deny people their last memories with their loved ones out of an abundance of safety is “an unbelievable conflict and tug of war of moral distress.”
Coronavirus patients in the ICU will spend the holidays alone this year. While choking back tears, COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit nurse Jade Jones says she couldn’t imagine missing decorating for the holidays with her family. Not wanting patients to feel that way, the staff purchased holiday decorations for the ICU rooms.
Teammate testimonies in the video end with a plea from Dr. Brath.
“We need the community to be part of the team. There are a lot of families who are going to have an empty chair at the table this holiday season,” Brath said. “We can’t do this without a lot of help. Wear a mask.”
Watch the whole video here: