Local critical care nurse explains ICU beds during coronavirus pandemic

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) —  A nurse at Albany Medical Center says while the higher-than-usual number of ICU beds puts a strain on critical care, he’s impressed with what the hospital has done to get ready for a situation like this. They’ve been cross training nurses from other areas to step in and help with these ICU patients, which require much closer monitoring.

“If you’re on a regular floor, the nurses are only taking your vital signs every four hours. They’re supposed to round and see you once every hour. But in an ICU,” Wes Atwood, a critical care nurse at Albany Med and Clinical Instructor at Maria College explained, “it’s much closer monitoring.”

Atwood says that besides the amount of attention from nurses the ICU beds require, there’s extra equipment in the room, such as an IV, medications, ventilator if the patient requires one, and a monitor that shows the patient’s blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen saturation.

As a critical care nurse during the coronavirus pandemic, Atwood says not much is different about how he does his job. He says it’s always been about giving his patients the best care possible, but there is some added stress that comes with potential exposure to the virus.

“I kind of have this pit in my stomach,” Atwood told News10, “if I get sick I’ll probably be okay, but I live next door to my parents. Am I going to get them sick?”

But using more personal protective equipment, or PPE, on a daily basis, is becoming Atwood’s new normal.

“Before I go into a room, I’m like okay, do I have everything on that I need to have on? Am I safe before going into this room? I’m not used to thinking that way,” Atwood said, “but I’m getting used to it.”

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