Nurses worry about protecting themselves from coronavirus


VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Hospital nurses have always been on the front lines, but they say the job today is a bit more dangerous than it was just two weeks ago and coronavirus is to blame.

“Of course you never know if the patient does have it,” said one nurse who asked not to be identified. “Being a nurse you know what you signed up for and you know that you have to help these patients even though it can be detrimental to your health.”

Coronavirus hasn’t hit Hampton Roads as hard as we’ve seen in other cities like New York and Atlanta, though nurses fear the possibility of running out of safety equipment.  

“My concerns are that we don’t have enough personal equipment and that we are going to be reusing them especially if we get more cases,” the nurse added. “I don’t want to bring this home to my family.”

Nurses say protective masks are already running low. In many hospitals, nurses have been given one mask to last for the foreseeable future.

“You get one and they say a single-use and you have however many patients you have and you are expected to use that one mask,” nurse Lyn Johnson said.

Johnson works at Chesapeake Regional and has worked in the field for decades. She, like so many, has never seen anything like this.

“It’s a sobering thought,” Johnson said. “I think it is the first time in nursing that I’ve really thought about the potential of really being impacted because of patients I care for.”

Nurses know better than anyone else how quickly the virus can spread. 

“I think the concern now is that we don’t have the control to keep it away from other people and it’s just not people at the hospital,” Johnson said. “It is your family. What if you bring it home?”

The work continues in hospitals unsure what the future holds and what tomorrow will bring.

“If you can stay home, stay home,” Johnson said. “We have the value of a lot of technology. I know it’s lonely and I know you can get frustrated, but stay home. It’s not worth it.”

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