Local News

'Nurse MacGyvers' give IV through window to sidestep virus

Posted April 24, 2020 5:50 p.m. EDT
Updated April 24, 2020 5:56 p.m. EDT

— 86-year-old Ruby Sitar had planned to spend her final days at her Raleigh care home. The pandemic almost upset that plan, but inventive healthcare workers and family members found a way to make it work.

Ruby’s daughter Catherine Earl says her mom, who suffered from dementia, had a urinary tract infection last month.

"She just wasn’t participating, she wasn’t talking," Earl says. "She was leaning which i believe is a symptom of a urinary track infection."

The infection was so serious, Ruby needed IV antibiotics, but with the threat of COVID-19, Earl was afraid to bring her to the hospital.

Home healthcare was the next option, but where Sitar lived is not a typical home. It’s a “residential care home,” a small assisted-living facility. It's on lockdown because of the pandemic. Earl could go in, but home healthcare nurses couldn't.

In this case, when one door closed, it was a window that opened.

"We got a call one night that we had someone who needed IV fluids at an assisted-living facility," says Marissa Farrell, a nurse with Duke Home Health Care. "And the scheduler – I will use her words – she said that I would have to be Nurse MacGyver.”

To avoid going inside the residential care home, the nurses from Duke administered the IV through a window, one round during the day and another at night, with Ruby's daughter Catherine Earl helping on the inside.

"It was dark and we were holding a flashlight so we could see," Farrell says. "It really did take an entire team, the biggest team member being Miss Ruby."

Ruby, a former nurse herself, was a perfect patient.

"Just to see everyone be able to come together to provide the care that she needed," Farrell says," was something to be an honor to be a part of, and I will never forget that."

Earl says her mother perked up with a day after receiving the medications and fluids, and experienced a burst of life before she passed away April 5th, surrounded by loved ones where she wanted to be - at home.

"That’s what her wish was, and I couldn’t have asked for more," Earl says. "I think there is something to be said about nurses today, that they’re willing to do whatever they can do because they are truly vested in our community and people in general."

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