Voices from the Front Lines: Betsy Anderson
We recently joined hospital staff for a few days to document the reality of treating COVID-19 patients in UK HealthCare clinical settings.
This edited interview is part of our ongoing series, “UK HealthCare: Voices from the Front Lines,” highlighting stories and perspectives from our frontline staff who care for the sickest COVID-19 patients since March 2020.
Betsy Anderson, RN, a staff nurse in the Medicine ICU who has been with UK HealthCare for more than 20 years.
What it's been like in the MICU for the past year and a half during the pandemic?
We usually see a lot of sad things and a lot of … people passing, that kind of thing. So, we're used to that — not that you ever get used to it, but we dealt with that. And I think with COVID, it's put a whole new spin on it because a lot of it's been people passing without their family members around and you're … trying to be family for the patient. And then you're also trying to be there for the family who can't be here.
It's just very, very disheartening. I love what I do. I love being a nurse. It's just, this time around is so different. Before I felt we had all this community support and we were all in this together and everyone was trying to find the answer. (Now) I go to (the grocery) and I wear a mask because I don't know who hasn't been vaccinated, and people look at me like there's something wrong with me for having a mask on.
I'm just tired. I've been here since the very first patient that we had, and I am just physically and emotionally and spiritually just drained, just drained.
Have there been any specific moments during the pandemic that really stuck out to you?
There have been several that we had to talk to them about getting intubated and they were still talking and still awake, but just struggling. They talked to their family and you know that it's probably going to be their last conversation with (them), and it's just awful.
What's the most important thing that you want someone on the outside to understand about what's happening?
There doesn't seem to be any pattern. The only pattern here that I'm seeing is that most of the people that we have are unvaccinated, but there isn't a commonality between those people. I'm seeing like a 22-year-old and a 64-year-old, and there's not one thing that ties them all together. So, I think people who think, ‘oh, well, I don't know anyone directly that it's happened to, so it's not going to happen to me,’ there's no way of knowing what can happen to anybody.