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New nursing normal

Anything but normal — especially in a COVID unit

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1st COVID-19 testing site opens in Fort Bend County

OakBend Hospital offered the first drive-thru testing site in west Fort Bend County. Medical assistants Belinda Hernandez, left, and Alicia Bell, test a resident for COVID-19 in a drive-thru lane at OakBend Medical Center’s Sugar Land branch on Thursday morning. The site is the first in Fort Bend County. Residents must be prescreened before they will be allowed to be tested at the site. OakBend expects to test up to 125 people each day. Results will be available within 48 hours.

The face of nursing has changed. Since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing is a much tougher job.

Indeed, since COVID-19, the job of nursing has a new face, especially when working on a designated COVID unit.

A week before COVID became a pandemic, Brandy Snyder accepted the position of Fourth Floor Medical Surgical Manager.

Then, her new floor became the COVID unit.

Now Snyder manages the 4th Floor Medical Surgical/COVID unit where positive and suspected positive COVID patients are accommodated.

Before the pandemic, Brandy worked 12-hour shifts, and now she works every day.

Although her hours are 7:30 a.m. to 5 Monday through Friday, she is not out the door at 5 p.m. She must stay until all reports and protocol checks are completed.

“I constantly need to uplift staff and stay positive because my staff counts on me to be there for them,” Brandy said.

“I spend more time with my staff and patients than I do with my family. There’s a lot of new education that I must learn and teach daily. I also advocate for both my staff and patients and their families.

“Due to the new protocols and visitation policy, we get a lot more upset family members calling in because they can’t be with their loved ones right now. It’s hard.”

Snyder also mentions that the staff has highs and lows.

“They are scared,” she said. “They have small children and elderly parents. They try to stay positive and they are thankful for their jobs, but they are physically and emotionally exhausted.”

Since the unit is the COVID unit, the staff is working with full PPE.

That includes gowns, shoe covers, N95 masks, goggles, hair covers and gloves.

“It’s exceedingly difficult to go from patient to patient,” Brandy explained.

“But, most of the patients are positive and hopeful. There have been a lot of patients recover.”

Not only have the things at work changed, but home life has changed as well for Brandy.

“I get scared, but I feel like no one really has a choice anymore,” she confided.

“You either come to work or you don’t get to pay your bills. You must be careful and follow your protocols.

“When I get home, I remove all my clothes in the garage, spray my shoes with Lysol and leave them in the laundry room. Then I get in the shower. I have two children, my youngest is 8 years old and my oldest is 14 years old. It is difficult.”

OakBend Quote

While being a nurse is anything but normal these days, Brandy has a word of advice for the community.

“Just be careful, take precautions and try to stay positive,” she said.

OakBend Medical Center is the last remaining independent, nonprofit hospital in the Greater Houston area, providing exceptional service with its three hospitals and many specialty centers. OakBend follows an innovative model of care that makes the patient the captain of the care team, up-ending the traditional approach to nursing where the doctors and nurses act as leaders of the team.

This patient-centered care drives OakBend’s services and programs, including its signature No Wait ER, and the Jack and Billie Wendt Acute Care for the Elderly (ACE) unit.

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