Stories: Voices from the frontline
Sari Gibbons, RN
Sari Gibbons has worked as a nurse at the Swedish Orthopedic Institute since 2015 and is now also working as a nurse partner in the First Hill ICU.
“All of our rooms in the orthopedic building are private, so when the outbreak started those units were some of the first to get hit with COVID patients. As the weeks went on we got more confident and developed a good process for gowning on and off, so we had a really good understanding of how to protect ourselves and protect our patients.
“With that experience, 14 of us signed up to be nurse partners or safety monitors, which means we’re there to help nurses in the ICU who are caring for patients with COVID who require a higher level of care—assisting with PPE and disinfecting and generally trying to relieve some of the stress so they can focus on the patient. When you’re already nervous and feeling uncertain, it helps to have someone next to you who can offer those little reminders or answer questions like, ‘What do I do when I’m coming out of the room?’
“I’ve always been eager to learn, so I think that has helped me anticipate what the ICU nurses will need before they ask.
“I was surprised by how nervous I was the first time I worked with a patient who had COVID. I remember helping one lab technician who told me, ‘I have a family member at home that has cancer.’ She was extra nervous, I could tell. Being safe isn’t just about us. It’s about going home to our families. It’s about going out into the public.
“It’s stressful, yeah. But I’m able to help the nurses, the physicians, the respiratory therapists, the technicians. I feel like I’m contributing in this uncertain situation that we’re in by easing their stress.”
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PHOTO GALLERY: Take a virtual tour of our hospitals to see how our caregivers are responding to COVID-19 and working to reduce its spread.