Nurses continue to overcome difficulties as hospital has one of its deadliest days

Published: Sep. 5, 2021 at 2:40 PM CDT
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SHEFFIELD, Ala. (WAFF) - Helen Keller Hospital had one of its deadliest days last week after it recorded five patients had died from COVID-19.

Registered nurses Haley Bradford and Sarah Edwards were working in the COVID unit that day. Both nurses spoke with our news partners at the Times Daily about their experience.

“Last year we had some days like this but with this round (of delta variant) people are passing away so much quicker,” Bradford said.

Both women have been in nursing since 2012 and they say they never get used to losing a patient.

“These are younger people getting very sick, so no, I’ll never get used to that,” Bradford said. “I mean, how do you look the parents of a 30-year-old in the eye and say, ‘I’m so sorry this virus took your child.’”

Even with all so many people passing away from the virus, they still don’t regret choosing their careers.

“If I had to choose a career again, I’d take the same path,” Edwards said. “This is what I chose, and it’s what I continue to choose.”

The hardest part of the job, according to the two, is that sometimes your best just isn’t enough. They’ve both worked shifts where they had to make phone calls to their patient’s families telling them to come to the hospital. It’s a call that signals their patient isn’t doing well.

“It’s emotionally draining to the point that sometimes all you can do is stand there and cry with them,” Bradford said.

Edwards suffered her own personal loss after her father passed away from the virus earlier this year. She says it broadened her perspective as a nurse even more and made her more understand what families are going through when their loved ones are critically ill.

“My own experience made me even more understanding of (families’) refusal to give up and push to keep trying things,” she said. “That’s exactly how I was.”

The toll of the long hours and constant overtime has been hard for the medical staff at Helen Keller. Bradford said she’s broken down in tears many times and has even heard a doctor break down in tears telling a family how he’s prayed for them.

Hospitals around the country are short-staffed with the latest surge in COVID cases. As of Friday, Helen Keller Hospital had 32 COVID inpatients, 21 of those were in the ICU and 10 were on ventilators.

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