Local News

Nurse gives first-hand account of battle on front lines of COVID-19 outbreak

Posted April 1, 2020 10:48 p.m. EDT

— A Raleigh nurse wrote on her Facebook page "by the end of 13 hours, your body hurts and your eyes burn."

It's just a glimpse into the rigorous schedule kept by our nurses, doctors, and hospital staff these days. Gianna Leonard, a nurse at UNC Rex Healthcare, recenlty summed up the physical and mental toll she deals with while fighting to save lives.

She also said "You’ve spent so much time today in the same few square feet, seldom leaving the bedside. The weight of the helmet becomes apparent to your cervical spine."

UNC Rex Healthcare has a brand new special respiratory isolation unit for patients with COVID-19. It's an eight-room unit that holds 16 patients complete with an air handling system for negative pressure.

Gianna Leonard (Contributed photo)

"I’m feeling pretty good," Leonard said. "Our numbers haven’t hit hard here in North Carolina, yet we are starting to see patients and we are not overwhelmed. We still have adequate resources.

Leonard helps care for patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19. The patients are isolated and not allowed any visitors.

Gianna Leonard

"Critical illness is devastating to a patient, and they really need a lot of support," Leonard said. "Though our hearts really break for our patients that have to do this alone, and there is no one with them when they are not hearing voices that they know."

Through the long hours, there has been a light at the end of the tunnel, and that has been the generosity from the public that have been helping to fulfill wish lists from other nurses.

UNC Rex Healthcare

"They heard we need masks, they started sowing mask when we opened this unit," Leonard said. "We saw a need for snacks and hydration during the day. I made an Amazon wish list and it cleared within 24 hours."

Leonard made it clear the support from the community has been key in helping those inside the hospital walls do their job well.

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