What it’s like for a respiratory therapist working in a COVID-19 ICU

Working in a hospital can be demanding, pandemic or not.

One respiratory therapist said she’s been thrust into the frontlines helping the sickest COVID-19 patients continue to breathe.

And, it’s not getting easier.

COVID-19 cases may be dropping but the NCH Healthcare System had its highest number of deaths on Sunday when seven patients died.

The ICU is still overflowing which puts a lot of stress on staff members.

When Lynda Pike steps into the ICU she knows it’s about to be a long and difficult day.

Because every day her COVID-19 patients get sicker and sicker.

“I never thought that my job would be so critical,” Pike said. “I have to say it is very tiring. We do have to take care of ourselves outside of the work environment to compensate for that increase in responsibility in the critical nature of what we do.”

Pike’s role is to help COVID-19 patients to breathe. Those are patients in the ICU.

Her critical work includes monitoring oxygen levels and lung function.

“It is also somewhat frustrating when we try to fight this virus, there are tools available out there, like the vaccines, and we see so many patients come through the doors who did not get the vaccine,” Pike said. “I keep thinking, is it truly a person who was not eligible? Or was it by choice?”

No matter the answer, the staff at NCH vows to do its best to care for every patient.

And while cases are trending downward there are still many people suffering in local hospitals.

Reporter:Rachel Cox-Rosen
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