They risk their lives to save ours. As of last week, 742 health care workers have been infected with COVID-19. Four have died. Nurses, doctors and hospital workers put themselves in harm's way every day to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Across the state of Oklahoma there are approximately 76,000 therapists, nurses, nutritionists, lab techs, janitors, and doctors. All warriors in a fight they never imagined they'd be a part of.
“Every single person in this hospital is putting their life at risk,” said an emotional Jennifer Blevin, a respiratory therapist at Integris.
“The first question in my mind is, ‘Is this person COVID or not?’” said Rachel McCloy an ER Nurse at Integris and the first person patients usually see.
They have witnessed firsthand what the virus can do.
“These patients turn bad quickly, they can go from being on room air with no oxygen to being 100 percent on a ventilator in hours,” said Blevin.
“It is scary, I don’t think it makes me a hero or anything like that but there’s a lot of unknowns,” said McCloy.
They try and protect those they love.
“I have had to socially distance from my family at times,” said Dr. Franklin who is Vice Chair and Medical Director at OU Family Medicine. “When I come home, I strip down, I put the bathrobe on immediately, go take a shower. I can shout and say hello to my family but that’s it. Until I have showered, changed my clothes and put my clothes in the laundry room I don’t feel comfortable about what I might be bringing home.”
McCloy said she hasn’t visited her family at all.
“I don’t know what I’ve been exposed to and I don’t want to expose them. And that’s really hard,” said McCloy.
The physical threat perhaps only surpassed by the emotional toll.
“What we’re seeing is a beast we can’t control. We can’t fight,” said Franklin. “We don’t yet have the tools. We are feeling very helpless in this situation as care providers.”
Tears at the end of the day have become a common release. Some say they cry in their cars before they go home.
“We’re all very cognizant that these patients are here all alone,” said Blevin.
Those who work inside the hospital are not only caretakers but the only source of human contact. Even in the end.
“Yea, we’ve had patients die. It’s hard. Especially when the family aren’t here. We try to make sure we’re in there with them,” said Belvin.
But just as emotional are those that survive, patients that come off the ventilators and go home.
“That helps,” said Blevin.