Leading Stories

by Ashlyn Adams, Staff Writer

When people are encouraged to stay home in an attempt to stay safe from COVID-19, the ones that remain on the front lines are most at risk.

Despite the unprecedented nature of the situation, medical workers are working tirelessly to combat the rising number of coronavirus cases. Everyone from medical students to professionals are feeling the effects.

Across the nation, hospitals are being forced to implement new policies and hope they will be effective.

Local nurses, most opting to remain anonymous, have provided insight into their respective and ever-changing work environments.

A nurse at Baptist Hospital expressed concern regarding the policies of her workplace.

“I love my workplace but have been extremely disappointed in the lack of prep, communication and response from our leaders,” she said.

She explained that patients and guests were not being screened, no one was doing extra sanitizing, and elective procedures were still taking place as of March 17. She described the hospital as being weeks behind neighboring facilities.

One such neighboring facility, West Florida Hospital, has implemented more intensive screening procedures.

Upon arrival, guests and patients must answer three questions:

  1. Have you had a fever or cough in the last week?
  2. Have you traveled out of the country in the last 14 days?
  3. Have you been in contact with any confirmed COVID-19 positive patient in the last 14 days?

If the answer is yes to any of the questions, they must be rescheduled for a minimum of 14 days out.

Although her hospital is doing everything it can, a West Florida nurse is still feeling the gravity of her job.

“As a nurse, I feel nervous and uncertain,” she said. “Am I putting my family at risk every day just coming home from work? Yes, I am. That’s the reality, and that is a very heavy burden.”

Susan King, a case manager for Florida Blue, provided a more positive aspect of the situation.

“The company is waiving all co-pays in efforts for members to seek care early and not wait because of lack of funds,” King said.

Medical workers aren’t the only ones feeling the frustration of the pandemic. UWF nursing major Alexie Fields spoke about her current online experience. 

We don’t get to experience any hands-on learning,” Fields said. “Our assignments were already very rigorous and hard. Now that workload has doubled if not tripled. I’m feeling very overwhelmed, stressed and upset about all of this.”

Madison Rondeau and Morgan Snow, also nursing students, gave similar input.

“It’s really hard to do nursing school from home,” Snow said. “I feel overwhelmed with the material and am stressed about being out of housing and a job. I’m also not sure if my projected graduation date will be moved back to make up clinical experience. If so, then I’ll be behind on starting a future with my career as a nurse and have to put marrying my best friend on hold for even longer.”

Like many, Rondeau is using her faith to stay positive in this time of fear.

“I’m personally feeling very overwhelmed and stressed—but I know that through all of this God is sovereign and although this pandemic was a surprise to us, it wasn’t to Him,” Rondeau said. “Praying for all students affected in this confusing time that is filled with many questions.”

Medical workers are doing what they can and hoping it will be enough. 

Students are hoping they can be in the field sooner rather than later.

Through it all, everyone is taking it in stride and working to make sure this is not the new normal.