The coronavirus pandemic has been spreading across the United States for over six months now. As such, nursing has been thrown into the spotlight. A nurse is a frontline worker when fighting a virus, and there have been many social media posts, videos, fundraisers, and events to support healthcare heroes. But what does nursing during a pandemic look like locally? Here is some information about nursing during the coronavirus in Pittsburgh.
COVID by the numbers
As of August 12, there have been more than 126,000 reported cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania. 7,440 people have died from the sickness. Allegany County, which includes Pittsburgh and the surrounding area, has had 9,078 confirmed cases and 273 deaths. While not hit nearly as hard as the eastern part of the state, this still means that the county has the fourth-highest recorded number of cases in Pennsylvania.
UPMC has been in the news recently as they are helping work on potential cures for the coronavirus. They have already completed many studies on the disease and have found important information, such as the fact that false-negative COVID tests are very rare and patients are unlikely to retest positive for the virus. This is still an ongoing situation, but UMPC and the rest of the scientific and medical community continue to study COVID-19 and work on developing treatments and vaccines.
Long-term facilities most at risk
As we have heard over the past months, older people seem to be more susceptible to a more serious reaction to the virus. As such, nursing homes have become hot spots all over the states. In Allegany County, 89 residential facilities have reported one or more cases. There have been 1018 cases in residents and 351 cases in employees, resulting in 195 deaths.
This has meant a change in protocol for nursing jobs and others in the facilities. Outside visitors have been banned or at least severely restricted since the spring. Residents must practice social distancing even within the nursing homes. This is one of the new rules that a nurse has to help enforce. They are also being more careful with their own interactions with residents. Personal protection equipment is more important than ever. Nurses also try to get in, do their jobs, and get out as soon as possible to limit exposure.
Effect in hospitals
As of August 12, there are 127 patients hospitalized because of COVID-19 in the greater Pittsburgh area. Twenty-nine of these people are on ventilators. This marks an increase in hospitalizations since the beginning of the summer. In mid-June, only around 40 coronavirus patients were in Pittsburgh hospitals.
People in nursing jobs are clearly under a lot of stress due to the current situation. Not only do nurses worry about catching COVID while at work, but they also don’t want to spread the virus to anyone else outside of the hospitals. As such, many nurses continue to self-isolate even when local stay-at-home orders have been lifted. All of this has put a strain on the mental health of nurses and healthcare professionals.
At the same time, there is a lot of support for nursing from the media and the country at large. While this is a scary situation, many nurses see it as their duty to show up on the frontlines every day and do everything they can to beat this pandemic.