An elderly woman chose not to visit her husband, who was dying from coronavirus complications, because she didn’t want to take the hospital’s limited personal protective equipment away from staffers.
It was a decision that moved cardiac intensive care nurse Blaire Guidry to tears.
“It was so selfless,” Guidry, 26, told TODAY Health. “This was probably the most difficult time in her life and she was thinking of us. She was aware of the shortages and knew she would have to go into the room with a gown and a mask.”
PPE, which also includes gear such as goggles and face shields, is in critically short supply. Last month, at Mount Sinai hospital in New York, several nurses were photographed wearing trash bags as gowns. Guidry said all the health care workers at at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans where she has worked since 2016, are “very, very protected” but noted that they are reusing masks and gowns.
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As death rates in New Orleans soar, Guidry said she is experiencing a new level of emotional exhaustion.
"One of the reasons I became a nurse was to connect with the families of patients," Guidry explained. "Providing support through the phone is one of the hardest things for me. They've never met me, they don't know what I look like and I'm asking them to put all their trust into me."
At the moment, Guidry's unit at Ochsner Medical Center is made up entirely of COVID-19 patients.
“We have the highest mortality rate in the hospital and we’re used to seeing a lot of death, but this feels different because it all happened so quickly,” Guidry revealed. “People that had mild to moderate comorbidities are now losing their life, and that is something we’re not used to.”