ABC 57 Investigates: Inside the Frontlines
BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich.--- The doctors and nurses in Spectrum Health Lakeland's emergency room put their lives on the line each day to fight the Coronavirus pandemic. To date, there are 425 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Berrien County.
"You have to be resilient and sometimes you have to just roll with the punches and try to move the best you can" said Dr. Sydney Cryder. "I know in the emails that I’ve sent have started with apologies because a policy that we laid down at 9 o’clock in the morning has changed by the 4 o’clock in the afternoon," said Dr. Rob Nolan, the emergency room's director.
Each day begins with thorough routines to make sure that outside contaminants aren't brought inside the hospital.
"I get here, I get screened by the front door staff, I have to go upstairs and change into new scrubs," said Dr. Cryder. "I have another pair of shoes, sometimes two pairs depending on what’s going on."
Personal protective equipment is a must and social distancing guidelines have completely changed the daily workflow. "Nurses are very caring and nurturing, and we like to spend time at the patient’s bedside as hands-on type care givers and with the change in work flow and processes we’ve change the amount of contact that we have," said Katy Effa, a registered nurse.
Patient care has also been affected because doctors and nurses can no longer physically connect with their patients. "It’s so difficult and sometimes I feel lacking knowing if I did the best that I can do because I can’t interact with a patient like I have before," said Dr. Cryder.
Mentors have been crucial for younger personnel to help deal with the constant changes and stress this pandemic brings.
"Being a new nurse, one of the things that I do, is I learn from the other experienced nurses and doctors that I work with," said Stephanie Aldridge, a registered nurse. "They have already gone through some of the other things, the Ebola, and the Zika."
The way that the staff relates to one another has also been upended by the pandemic. "They found kind of funny that you can’t share a cookie and a cup of coffee with your colleague but those things have been taken away and that does change the way people feel about what they’re doing," said Dr. Nolan.
The thing that keeps this staff going, in addition to the sense of duty to heal, is the unwavering support it gets from the community. "This is a really deep thing to get really said and depressed about and I just see so many rays of hope from so many wonderful people out their supporting their neighbors and family members that that’s what gives me so much hope," said Dr. Nolan.
The doctors and nurses and Lakeland say that even though each day is a battle, they believe they will come out of this pandemic even stronger than before.
"Yes it’s scary but I’ll tell you this, I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else because we know how to stick together." said Registered Nurse Vernita Moon. "we’re facing it all together everyday, everyday."