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What's it like to be a health care worker during the COVID-19 pandemic?

This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has created devastation across the world. Many, many people have died from the virus.  

Health care workers are faced with an extremely daunting task during the outbreak-taking care of the sick and infected. Unfortunately, this means putting themselves at risk of contracting the virus. 

Belinda is a medical surgical nurse in Texas. She works in a medical hospital in-patient setting with veterans.

Belinda is exposed to COVID-19 on a daily basis. In fact, she treated the first COVID-19 patient at her hospital. As expected, many struggles came with the dangerous territory of healthcare. 

"At the beginning of the pandemic-in February and March-we (medical staff) weren't sure about the virus. We would go to work and not know what was going on. There also was a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE)", says Belinda.   

Months later, health care workers must wear protective equipment to shield themselves from COVID-19. 

"We wear a surgical mask at all times. We wear goggles and face shields the entire time too. We also wear an N95 mask if someone has COVID-19, although that mask is harder to wear for longer periods of time", Belinda says.  

While Belinda is exposed to COVID-19 patients daily, she said that currently, she doesn't have fears about contracting the virus. "With necessary precautions in place at the hospital and personal protective equipment (PPE), contracting the virus is no longer a fear for me", Belinda explains. However, she says that it is challenging to social distance from her medical staff.  

Another struggle Belinda faced was taking care of patients who had not yet tested positive for the virus. 

"I took care of patients who came to the hospital for ailments like chest pain-they didn't come in for COVID-19", Belinda says. "But they actually had COVID-19 and didn't know it yet."     

The hospital work schedules were different during the pandemic as well.   

Belinda says that although the work hours were still technically the same, hospital staff would get pushed to work more. "Hospital staff members were getting sick with the virus, so other staff members would get pushed to work voluntary overtime." 

Fortunately, even in the midst of chaos, there are positives in the situation. 

Belinda says that she enjoys working with veterans. "The veterans became family-I even used my own cell phone for them to call someone. It's rewarding to be able to see them talk with family members. I also enjoy being able to make a difference, provide good care to the patients, and be a voice for them. " 

Belinda also says that she learned valuable lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"I look at things in a different light now. I don't take anything for granted. Tomorrow isn't promised to you." 

The COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged the entire world. Through it all, health care workers have been working around the clock to help the sick and save lives. 

Thank you to all the health care workers everywhere! 

All GIFs via GIPHY 

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by Katherine Brown | 11/1/2020
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