Debroeck does her hair and makeup impeccably each morning because she wants him to seem at her and know that, despite the maze of wires and tubes around his single bed , everything is OK.
“I love you such a lot ,” she whispers while stroking the 36-year-old’s forehead.
Debroeck herself was hospitalized three doors down from her husband in her own battle with COVID-19 earlier this month, and each time she heard alarms from medical machines or someone gasping for breath echoing down the hall, nurses ran in to assure her it wasn’t her beloved Michael.
“I want him to seem at us and see we’re making it,” Debroeck said. “Even if we’re falling apart.”
The bedside vigil is playing call at a Shreveport hospital that’s full of patients from across Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas and overwhelming medical staff, who describe crying on the thanks to work and becoming numb to the sound of zipping up body bags and sending dead patients off to funeral homes. About 120 of Willis-Knighton Medical Center’s 138 coronavirus patients are unvaccinated, including the Debroecks.
Michael was against the COVID-19 vaccine. Lauren simply never found the time.
“I made the appointment 3 times and canceled it because i used to be too busy,” she said.
Nursing Coordinator Beth Springer recalls how, a month ago, the ICU hallways were nearly clear. Now the pandemic seems worse than ever before.
“I see tons of sadness. I see tons that I never thought I’d see in my career,” said Springer, who has been a nurse nearly 20 years.
Early within the pandemic, nursing staff at Willis-Knighton would hang a paper angel on the wall whenever they lost a patient to the virus. But because the months progressed and therefore the price rose from one surge after another, the visual became a brutal sight for providers to seem at hour after hour.
Willis-Knighton’s Chief Nursing Officer, Denise Jones, breaks down in tears when she explains how they replaced the angels with colorful paper streamers hanging above the hallway — anything to offer solace to a staff that has zipped patients who didn’t make it into body bags and delayed phones so families could ask their sick loved ones.
“We’re to seek out |searching for” trying to find anything we will do for the staff to find some joy in their a day because there’s little or no in it immediately ,” said Jones.
Registered nurse Melinda Hunt is functioning six or seven days every week , awakening before dawn. She activates a Disney movie while she gets ready.
But the escape is fleeting. Her eyes fill with tears as she drives to figure on a rainy morning. Hunt, 24, decided to become a nurse when she was 6 and she or he watched the compassionate and skilled professionals help her younger sister who had leukemia.
Hunt wont to be upbeat and peppy. But now she feels exhausted and drained. Co-workers have noticed the change and sometimes ask her if she is OK or if she needs an opportunity .
“I don’t desire I can take an opportunity because we already don’t have nurses,” she said.
By the time Hunt gets to the communicable disease Critical Care Unit around 6:30 a.m., she pushes away the tears and therefore the exhaustion. There are COVID-19 patients who need her honesty and compassion.
“These patients inquire from me , ‘Am I getting to die?’ and that i don’t want to inform anybody they’re getting to die,” Hunt said. “But I’m not getting to give them false reassurance either.”
Inside Willis-Knighton, plastic sheeting separates the lobby so potential COVID-19 patients are often isolated as they’re examined.
The halls are crammed with medical equipment and nurses and doctors in head-to-toe protective gear shuffling from one room to subsequent .
But those busy hallways are a stark reminder that just when it seems things might revisit to normal, the pandemic roared back.