ATLANTA — Every day they go to work knowing it will be a bigger challenge than the day before. It is the experience of healthcare workers in hospitals in many communities in the state - especially hot spot areas.
11Alive talked to a group of medical workers who work in one of metro Atlanta’s busiest hospitals serving COVID-19 patients. They didn't feel comfortable showing their faces to protect their jobs, but feel strongly about sharing their experiences so the public can continue to help in the fight to slow the spread of the virus.
“Is the protective gear getting to you on the front lines. Do you have what you need?” 11Alive's Cheryl Preheim asked one of the medical professionals.
“We do not have enough.” the healthcare worker quickly answered.
“Because of all the COVID-19 patients, we have been going through supplies like we never have before," she explained.
She said it is not because anyone is taking extras home, it’s just a mind-numbing demand and limited supply. She said her hospital goes through far more than 2,000 masks a day.
A second nurse said, “whatever supply is out there has not fully reached our hospital to protect workers in the way they need.”
A third healthcare worker told 11Alive, “I have not seen it."
"I am hopeful it’s coming and it just hasn’t reached us yet.” she said.
11Alive asked one of the medical workers about her mask. She said she has a mask that is not ideal, it’s not an N-95 mask with a filter. She should be changing her mask every time she sees a new patient. She says she is wearing the same mask for two weeks.
The same stories of supply shortages were shared by more than 250 nurses in a survey from the Georgia Nurses Association.
“Hospitals are doing the best that they can but they don’t have the supplies they need," one said. “So people are anxious, they are worried about infecting their family.”
She said they are going through that emotional trauma every day they work.
“Nurses are fearful, they are feeling the strain of taking care of so many patients," one healthcare worker said.
“More than a week ago we had already maxed out our ICU; as long as I’ve been at this hospital, I’ve never seen so many people on ventilators.”
The nurse pointed out that we are on the beginning edge of this medical response.
11Alive asked what keeps them going back to the hospital every day.
“I got into this profession to serve and help people," one nurse said. “I want to help people when they are going through hard times and support my coworkers facing hard times, too.”
They all say the community support means a lot.
“I helps us not give up when the days are hard and it helps you not give up, when you feel anxious, or you hear another code blue called overhead.” one of them added. “That is a big part of what keeps me going.”
Another source of hope: seeing empty streets, parks, and popular places all around Metro Atlanta.
“That is actually the most reassuring thing I could see right now. When they follow guide lines, it helps protect everyone," they added.
“The public needs to know how serious this is. It isn’t something being played up by the media or hype. We are seeing an enormous number or patients in our hospitals who are very sick, on ventilators, not just old people. Young people too," one worker said.