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ICU Nurse On Overwhelmed Staff During COVID Surge: 'I Pray For My Teammates'

84% of hospitals in Florida are at high or extreme stress levels because of the percent of patients hospitalized with COVID-19, according to data from IHME. Image: IHME
Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation
84% of hospitals in Florida are at high or extreme stress levels because of the percent of patients hospitalized with COVID-19, according to data from IHME.

"One nurse was so upset, she looked at me with tears and she said, 'You know, I can turn in my badge now and go home. I can’t do this.' " recalls June Brown, of Osceola Regional Medical Center,

Florida has more hospitals under high or extreme stress than anywhere in the United States. That’s according to an analysis of federal data done by NPR using metrics from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. 

In Florida, 84% of hospitals are at high or extreme stress levels because of the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19.  But there is some good news: the number of patients hospitalized in Florida has started to decline. 

WMFE health reporter Abe Aboraya spoke with June Brown, an intensive care unit nurse at Osceola Regional Medical Center in Kissimmee, about. her experiences caring for COVID patients.

She says that one recent morning each of ICU's 20 beds was full and there were only eight nurses staffing the unit.


“One nurse was so upset, she looked at me with tears and she said, You know, I can turn in my badge now and go home. I can’t do this.' And I said to her, 'I’m so sorry. I wish I could do better. I humbly apologize.' Because I had to give like four of them three patients.”

The best practice for nurses in the ICU is to care for one or two patients at most. 

In previous statements, HCA, parent company of Osceola Regional, said there’s a critical shortage of nurses because of the pandemic.

Brown says the stress of caring for so many COVID patients takes an emotional toll on the nurses.

“I’m not a licensed clinician to diagnose (post-traumatic stress disorder), but I can tell you I see symptoms of it. I see signs of it amongst us. Because when one of our patients crashes or we hear a code … you can see the tears well up in our eyes,” says Brown.

“You know, you can’t cry every day. So I pray for my teammates.”

Brown says she wants people to take the coronavirus seriously.

“Whatever measures you choose to take to protect yourself, please take good measures. Whether you choose to take the vaccination, or you choose to wear your mask and socially distance," she says, "Please do something. It is not just for yourself. It is for the people you love. It is for the neighbors, it’s for people you’ve never met.”

 
Copyright 2021 WMFE. To see more, visit WMFE.