North Dakota nurses worry about working with sick colleagues


BISMARCK, ND (AP) – Like many medical personnel around the world, Fargo emergency room nurse Adam Johnson cannot escape the grim reality of the coronovirus epidemic. It follows him everywhere: at work, where people die in every shift; At the grocery store, where people rail against the masked necessity of their city; And at home, where he struggles to sleep.

He has gotten through long months, including North Dakota’s current virus wave that is the worst in America, from finding solace during brief breaks with fellow nurses where they can swap tips on insomnia or just vent frustrations. Huh. But she and many other nurses fear that it will be even more difficult The state’s endangered hospital for using infected but asymptomatic workers to treat COVID-19 patients.

“Every time you want to sit down and grab a five-minute snack with one of your coworkers, it’s going to be questioning,” Johnson said. “You’re always gonna think, ‘Am I 6 feet away from them? Am I safe? I’m not?'”

Bergam said his decision could help hospitals in North Dakota, which are in capacity after or near the boom in cases that began in the summer. But Johnson and several other nurses feel that he is grieving them with yet another burden while opposing common security measures to prevent the spread of the virus that may be less politically vulnerable in the conservative state.

Like some of his Republican counterparts in other states who have large spikes in COVID-19 cases, Bergham took a business-friendly approach for months, which puts the onus of slowing the virus on individuals rather than government orders, so that both To protect life and livelihood. “It wasn’t until Friday that he was finally related And ordered a statewide facade mandate and some restrictions on businesses and gatherings.

Hands off approach did not work. After surviving an explosion of initial cases of epidemics in several other states, the virus has caused widespread outbreaks in North Dakota, which now routinely breaks its daily record highs for cases and deaths.

Bergam’s move, which has been allowed under the Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, reflects a shortage of medical staff in one of the most difficult areas in the country, Drs. Said Thomas Tsai, an assistant professor at Harvard’s School of Public Health. He said that hospitals across the country are weighing such options as case numbers.

That’s why in South Dakota, which allows practice But where no major hospital is currently using infected workers.

In spring and early summer in places like New York, medical staff around the country Were able to provide relief for hospitals and fly in volunteer. But Tsai said the virus is now so widespread that such relief in North Dakota is unlikely.

The state’s major hospitals pushed Bergam’s administration to allow them to become infected, but asymptomatic staff treats COVID-19 patients.

Michael LeBue, head of Sanford Health Bismarck, said, “We applaud the governor for using another device that allowed such employees to work in a dedicated COVID-19 unit once it was found safe for its employees Is developing protocols for giving. ” And patients. He said he hoped hundreds of health care workers at his hospital would take adequate security measures to support the move.

But Tessa Johnson, who heads the North Dakota Nurses Association, said the group surveyed hundreds of its members this week and “we’re not thrilled at all” with the decision.

“I know that nurses leave work every day and cry in their car before they go home to see their children,” Johnson said. “I don’t know how much more we can take.”

Under CDC guidelines, asymptomatic infected medical staff who intend to treat COVID-19 patients must take their temperature before every shift and confirm that they have no symptoms. Even workers with mild symptoms are not allowed to treat patients.

The Chief Medical Officer of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials Drs. Marcus Placia said hospitals must determine whether naming employees with infections is a violation of HIPAA laws, although he said stricter use of protective equipment in COVID should prevent units from spreading infection among hospital employees, even if Peers may not know who is infected.

Plasia said a change in the rule could put internal and external pressure on infected staff members when they recover at home.

Many nurses say they are already at a breaking point, and some are beginning to feel hopeless.

“We are getting very thin and there is no end in sight,” said Kami Lehan, a hospital nurse in Fargo, the largest city in North Dakota and who adopted her own mask requirement last month . However this does not penalize non-compliance. “We don’t know how long it’s going to last, or if it’s at its peak or if it’s going to get worse.”

Grief is the hardest part, he said.

“There’s a lot of damage that’s hard to take,” she said. “Families leave a loved one at the door thinking that things are going well, and sometimes they are not.”

Health workers worry that even though asymptomatic infected peers are limited to COVID-19 units, they can still spread the disease in break rooms, cafeterias, restrooms, and other shared areas.

Hospital administrator and Fargo’s Republican state senator Kristin Roers said Bergam’s move would help hospitals take care of patients. But it also admitted that it presents a dilemma for hospital staff. Roers, who is also a registered nurse, is increasingly working with patients because staffing has become so thin.

“I can understand completely,” he said. “But I mean what do you do when there is no one left to care for the patients?”

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Grooves reported from Sioux Falls, SD

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