‘It’s watching people struggle to breathe every day’: Stillwater Medical Center ICU nurses talk about COVID-19 pandemic

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STILLWATER, Okla. (KFOR) – Nurses at Stillwater Medical Center spoke to KFOR about what it’s like at this point in the pandemic.

“Things are rough. Everything’s kind of ramping up again, and it’s bring back a lot of emotions, stress, anxiety,” ICU nurse Abby Snow said. “It’s almost like a PTSD response, just kind of not knowing
how bad is it going to get.”

She says it’s mentally and physically exhausting.

“We’re regular people. We have families, but we’re nurses. That’s our job. So we come to work
and we spend all of our day and all of our mental capacity and our physical capacity trying to change someone’s life and save someone’s life and send that person back to their family,” she said.

There are ten beds in Stillwater Medical Center’s ICU, but because of a nursing shortage, it’s hard to staff all the beds.

While staffed bed capacity is constantly changing, some patients are held in the ER until space is available.

“It’s watching people struggle to breathe every day. It’s watching my staff struggle to find the best way to care for people. It’s watching them struggle to keep coming back to work every day and know that we’re going to be doing the same thing over and over again with watching people struggle to breathe,” Mary Beth Hunziker, ICU director, said.

Keep in mind there are non-COVID patients who need the ICU too.

“I’m afraid. I’m afraid that our unit will fill with all COVID patients and those that need critical care won’t have anywhere to go,” Hunziker said.

She says most COVID patients in the ICU are unvaccinated.

“If people don’t wake up and take it seriously and put the politics or the misinformation or whatever it is aside, I’m afraid a lot of people that shouldn’t die are going to die,” she said.

She says people getting vaccinated would mean a lot to the staff.

“We’ve had people bring food, people send pizza, they send cookies, while all that stuff is really nice,
and we are very very grateful for it, if we had people that started messaging us or sending us notes to say, ‘hey, I got my vaccine. My neighbor got a vaccine,’ that would be so much more impactful.”

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