TOWSON, Md (WMAR) — The pandemic has not only taken a toll on patients and their families, but on the healthcare workers too.
"I think it still hasn’t fully set in even after all this time," said GBMC nurse Avery Wrigley.
It’s been 80 days since Wrigley’s unit became the COVID-19 floor at GBMC.
"It’s been very very busy and it’s been very stressful," said Wrigley.
80 days of constant scrubbing and sanitizing.
"We’ve worn masks for 13 hours straight, swapping between a surgical mask and an n95. We’ve worn gowns in every room, changed gloves over and over again, washed our hands nonstop. Our ears, nose, and hands are rubbed raw," said Wrigley.
80 days of doing everything she can to help her patients during a crisis. Being there when their families can’t be.
"It’s like wow, this is what nursing can turn into. We are their families," said Wrigley.
A journey that has given her a new purpose as a nurse.
"I feel like we are really really helping people and people are going to remember us forever," said Wrigley.
One moment she will remember forever, when one of the unit’s first COVID-19 patients was moved into hospice care.
"She was up and down between our unit and the ICU. She had been upgraded multiple times and her family decided to make her hospice," said Wrigley.
And that day, she was her patient. The family had coronavirus too so they couldn’t come say their goodbyes. Wrigley FaceTimed them in.
"It just kind of hit me like this is the last time they are going to see their mom and it's through a FaceTime screen and it’s huge because I don’t think people understand the severity of it until it affects them directly," said Wrigley.
That's what she hopes people understand by hearing her story. She wrote a blog about her experience working 80 days in a COVID-19 unit, hoping it pushes people to continue taking the pandemic seriously as things start to reopen.
"I understand we can’t keep things closed forever," said Wrigley. "It’s super important not to forget what it has already done and what it has the potential to do."
Wrigley encourages people to continue social distancing, washing your hands frequently and wearing a mask to help keep others safe.