How many years have you been a nurse and what kind of unit do you work on?
I’ve been a nurse for 7 years. Currently I work in the Emergency Department, in a level 1 trauma/ teaching facility.
How long is your travel assignment?
My current assignment is for 13 weeks.
What week are you on? How many days off do you get in between? Is the travel agency paying for your room/board/meals?
Technically I am on week 6, however, my contact was rewritten for crisis purposes, so I had to resign my contract. With that being said, I am now on week 3. Generally, I group my days together working 4 on with 3 days off in between. Yes, my travel agency is paying for my room/board/meals.
In general, describe your experience taking a travel assignment in America during COVID
Working on a travel assignment as an ED nurse right now during COVID has been bizarre, emotional and yet fulfilling to say to the least. This pandemic is like nothing that we’ve ever experienced before. It caught us by surprise. We weren’t prepared for this. But I must say, to see the things that we have overcome and accomplished in such a short period of time, is revolutionary. Day in, and day out, we’ve improvised, we’ve created new solutions to tackle familiar problems, we’ve stuck together as a country, we’ve educated one another and the list goes on. Being on the frontline, and seeing it all, I truly believe that this too shall pass.
Have you seen patients less than 35 years old?
Absolutely, and it’s very unfortunate. The youngest patient that I have seen was 29 years old. He came into the Emergency Department for 10 days of shortness of breath. He was found to be hypoxic with an SpO2 of 70% on RA (room air), desperately needing a ventilator that at this point, has been very scarce. He was placed on high flow oxygen and transferred to the ICU for further management.
What kind of PPE are you wearing per your hospital’s protocol? Does the hospital have enough?
Currently, we are wearing gowns (which for right now, we have been fortunate enough to be able to change in between patients ), gloves, face shields (one per week), bouffants, shoe covers and N95 masks (one per week). As a practicing nurse for 7 years, I don’t necessarily feel exceptionally comfortable re-wearing an N95 mask for an entire work week. Similarly, our once 4 zoned ER, had to be changed around to accommodate the influx of COVID+ and COVID rule-out patients. With that being said, there are now 3 designated areas that we call Respiratory Isolation to better contain these patients. In this area we are required to wear PPE continuously for your entire 12 hour shift, and then re-wear it for the rest of your shifts throughout the week. Wearing this 4 day old mask does not make me feel [that great]. With all of that being said, I know it could be worse. There are other facilities in NYC right now really struggling to support and protect their staff. For right now, I am grateful to my facility for recognizing the potential danger that the lack of PPE may cause, therefore they have initiated procedures and protocols to continue to keep us feeling as safe as they can and to continue to have PPE for us.
Please leave a comment below and lets show our gratitude to the thousands of nurses like Memi that have left their homes to save lives by taking crisis travel assignments in the busiest and sickest cities all across America.
Keep up with Nurse Memi via her Instagram @memifbaby!