The Dust is Settling in New Jersey
Holy Name Medical Center nurse Ashley Fitzpatrick had been working in the cardiac catheter lab nurse for the last seven years but was transferred to the coronavirus unit to supplement care during the pandemic.
Only now has she started transitioning back to her initial post.
As the hospital continues to clear out and shut down COVID-19 units, the “whole entire hospital, both patient care and non-essential areas,” has been cleaned and sanitized, Fitzpatrick says.
But the battle is far from over. One of the toughest long-term challenges for both patients and health care workers will be the grieving process.
“I don’t think that anyone has ever seen these numbers before, and I hope we never do again,” said Fitzpatrick, referring to the virus’ infection, hospitalization and death rates. “I hope we take care of each other as we all grieve through this process.”
Fitzpatrick also urges health care workers and others feeling long-term effects from the outbreak, mentally or physically, to advocate for themselves and their families.
“It could be important to have those discussions with family members about advanced directives and what you would prefer for care, especially because the family members can’t be around,” she said.
While it’s not clear which protocols are temporary and which are here to stay, Fitzpatrick has faith in nurses and other workers navigating the health care system to continue to prioritize community safety and overall wellbeing.
“I think nurses, by nature, are resilient and creative, and we’re used to being innovative,” she said. “But going forward, we need to focus on these safety measures and keeping the community safe in the event of another outbreak.”