'This job is breaking me,' Virginia nurse says amid COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 7:03 PM, May 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-06 21:29:58-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- A nurse at Henrico Doctors' Hospital said what she has witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic has left her broken and emotionally drained.

Lauren Ingle, a RN and BSN who will become a nurse practitioner when she earns her master's degree in August, recently posted about her experiences in the hospital's dedicated COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) on social media.

"This job is breaking me and my team down to the core", Ingle wrote. "My job is to serve everyone, not to not care."

Ingle said what she and her team are experiencing every day is heartbreaking.

"Being a nurse, we're supposed to care for everybody," she wrote. "And when what we do isn't enough, that's very toilsome."

Unless someone is working on the front lines, there is no way to comprehend what medical staff are dealing with, according to Ingle and many others in the medical field.

"I love my patients and my families. We all do," Ingle wrote. "Death is real right now, but not visible to everyone".

The dire conditions have not changed Ingle and her team's commitment to their patients, some of which will not survive.

"They're all exhausted and feel like, we're just not doing enough," Ingle said.

While Ingle knows she has done everything within her power to help, she said it is hard to come to grips with patients dying alone in their hospital rooms.

"I can't imagine being in their position and not being with their loved one. When they're dying and to say goodbye, so we do what we can for them," she said.

When the end is near, Ingle works "to take the best care of them I can, to alleviate suffering and then for them not to be alone."

"This virus has made that very difficult," she added.

Ingle recently posted about what things are like in the ICU when a COVID-19 patient is dying.

"As my team and I take our phones out to provide one last goodbye with families through FaceTime, we all cry heavily in silence, underneath our PPE," Ingle wrote.

For many working in the hospital, Ingle's writing rings true.

"This virus has claimed the spot as being one of the most devastating and disheartening events in my nursing career," Ingle said.

After sometimes pulling three physically and emotionally draining 12-hour shifts, Ingle knows that while she and her colleges can win some fights, they will not be able to win the war against COVID-19.

"We all leave feeling the same way: devastated, exhausted, dehydrated, hopeless, and as a failure," Ingle wrote.

Nurse Ingle's Complete Post:

I am a nurse who works in an intensive care unit in Virginia. My ICU has been deemed the COVID 19 ICU, in which all of the patients are critically-ill with this virus. Various ages occupy those rooms. Though willing to care for any person, this virus has claimed the spot as being one of the most devastating and disheartening events in my nursing career. People die of all ages, and there is nothing we can do. Patients beg you to help them before intubation, to relieve their hypoxia and distress, and they die hours later. We FAIL constantly! Patients are going into respiratory failure, DIC, and cardiogenic/septic shock from this virus. As my team and I take our phones out to provide one last goodbye for families through FaceTime, we all cry heavily in silence, underneath our PPE, trying to not allow anyone to die alone. We provide multiple daily phone calls with families and patients by leaving the phone next to the patient's hear who is intubated, just so the family feels close to to them. My job is to serve everyone, not to not care. This job is breaking me and my team down to the core. I LOVE my patients and my families; we all do. Death is real right now, but not visible to everyone. On normal days, we medical professionals have sick humor to get us through to be able to care for people, but today, that does not exist. We all leave feeling the same way: devastated, exhausted, dehydrated, hopeless, and as a failure. We take human life lost as a personal hit because we literally try to do anything we can to save it and know that EVERY life has value! Though I know times today are hard for everyone, and everyone responds to stressors differently, please say a prayer for people taking care of people today. There's a lot more to this virus that what society knows who do not see it in action.

|Shout Out to my Team:|
Physicians and mid-levels who tirelessly try all that they can for these critically ill patients, you are greatly appreciated!

Respiratory therapists, who manage my ventilated patients and those about to arrest because this virus blocks their ability to perform normal gas exchange, you are greatly appreciated!

Nurses, who care for critically-ill patients fully, care for and support your team without thinking of yourselves, and treat patients as family during each stage of this process, you are greatly appreciated!

Pharmacists, who provide continual pharmaceutical support with trial medications, sedation, pain relief, and vasopressor support, you are greatly appreciated!

Care Techs, who help me with anything asked for my patients, provide nursing staff support, help me during the hard times of saying goodbye, and bust their butts every shift, you are greatly appreciated!

Radiology, CT, IR, Lab, and MRI; you have no idea how much you are appreciated, as you daily help us evaluate how these patients progress or get better! You help us determine our diagnoses.

Nursing supervisors, who help run these hospitals during this time, which is no small feat, you are greatly appreciated!

Managers and directors, who endlessly try and provide staff support, listen and watch us break down, and help families by providing closure, you are greatly appreciated!

Transporters, who help us take our patients to and from tests and to the morgue, you are greatly appreciated!

Fire and EMS, we appreciate your smiling faces as your bring these patients in, and we are thinking about you, as I know that you face this virus head-on in an uncontrolled environment. You are greatly appreciated!

Please say a prayer for people who take care of people, as this is not a sympathy post but an enlightening one. Everyone could use it right now prayers and good vibes, as the burden of healthcare today is heavy!

To my team, I love you!

Depend on CBS 6 News and for the most complete coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 Precautions

Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.

COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.

Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with sick people.Avoid non-essential travel.