How Covid-19 has changed our hospitals

By Emma Cottrell May 2, 2020

Rather than spend Easter weekend with my family, I spent it in the hospital. While I do not know much about the inner-workings of hospitals, I got an inside look as to how they have changed in light of the Coronavirus. I realized that my traumatic experience was not my own, and that thousands of people are in hospitals all over the country right now sick and fearful for themselves and their families. 

Coronavirus measures became obvious as my mother helped me walk up to the front door of the emergency room. Supportive and encouraging chalk drawings covered the pavement of the ambulance lot, and a group of uniformed men guarded the entrance. Regardless of the obvious discomfort I was in, a nurse stopped us inside the entrance to check me for symptoms of the Coronavirus and to give me a mask. The nurse then told us, before we could step in any father, that I had to go in alone. My mom could not step into the building. After checking in and going through triage, I spent one of the worst nights of my life (which I will spare all of the gory details) all by myself. 

Due to the Coronavirus, hospitals do not allow any visitors. Having a family member in the hospital is not only a source of comfort for the admitted person, but they also act as an advocate. If someone is too sick or injured to speak for themselves, the accompanying person can do it for them. An advocate can also step in when they believe that the doctors are doing something that could harm the patient rather than help. I did not have that. I had no one to help me or speak on my behalf which made an already difficult situation even harder. I then realized that all of the people with Coronavirus in the hospital would be in the exact same boat. They are potentially dying of a global disease and they have none of their family at their side. Sometimes that can make all the difference. 

Families of those with Coronavirus are also burdened with the uncertainty of whether or not their loved one is okay. Some do not get to say goodbye, and video chat can only convey so much. During my experience, my parents sat in their cars in the emergency room parking lot with their eyes glued to their phones waiting to get a text from me on what was going on. I’m sure there are thousands of people in the world right now who feel the exact same way except in their case it could be life or death. 

I was finally admitted into the hospital to be monitored overnight. My family could not come in then either, so they went home expecting to hear from me in the morning. It was then that I got a closer look at how the staff were dealing and coping with the Coronavirus. Everyone was wearing a mask. One of the first conversations that I heard was between two nurses who were unhappy with the masks because they had to wear them so much that the straps were cutting into their ears. One of the nurses had a solution for this. Another hospital worker had come in the day before to sew buttons on the sides of head bands, so they could hook the straps onto the buttons rather than their ears. But the Coronavirus hung heavy in the hospital air as one nurse said to me “this is a really bad time to be in the hospital.” 

After an overnight stay and a review of at-home treatment, I was discharged. I cannot be more grateful for the doctors and nurses who helped me. We should all be doing our part to flatten the curve and help out our local medical professionals because I’m sure they too have someone outside the hospital waiting for them. 

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