Nurses on the front lines share their fears, advice on coronavirus outbreak

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Though the majority of the population can do their part to fight COVID-19 by staying home, there is one group of people who do not have that luxury: healthcare workers.

From doctors to respiratory therapists, these professionals risk their lives to save others daily.

Action News spoke with two nurses who work for healthcare systems in the Delaware Valley who say they understand that many people are concerned, and even afraid.

And they say that's OK, they are too.
Jeff Doucette the chief nursing officer for Jefferson Health says, "In addition to worrying about wanting to be here for our community and take care of our patients, we are also worried about our families, our friends, you know, how we stay healthy."

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Doucette says he's repeatedly asked, "What can the public do to help health care workers through this pandemic?"

He says that while the need for protective gear is huge, it's second on the list.

He says, "The best thing they (the public) can do is follow the guidelines that have been put forth by the city and the state in terms of staying home. That is the best thing you can do for our healthcare providers."

Simply put, do your best to not become infected.
Ashley Fitzpatrick, a nurse with Virtua Health Systems, says the reason is that all the safety gear and equipment in the world will do no good if the system becomes overwhelmed.

Fitzpatrick tells us, "Just say you have an unlimited amount of ventilators. We don't have an unlimited amount of nurses to run those ventilators."

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And that is at the heart of the concern for medical professionals here in the Delaware Valley.

Fitzpatrick asks, "When are we going to be the area that's going to be next, and how are we going to deal with this, because realistically, what hospital system is prepared to have hundreds of patients on ventilators, people who need the critical care?"

Ashley adds that the best way to approach "social distancing" is to behave like you are already infected, rather than trying to avoid becoming infected.

She says than tiny mental adjustment will help you become that much more focused on keeping yourself, and others, as safe as possible.
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