They are treating the sickest Corona patients and are facing a record increase: – It is horrific to see people struggling in this way to get enough air, says Rita Paulsen in the intensive care unit at Tromsø Hospital.
UNN, TROMSØ (Nettavisen): – I hope the procedures being performed here in Tromsø, among other places, will work, and I hope that a third dose of coronary vaccine will reduce the number of infections, says Rita Poulsen. She is the group leader of intensive care nurses at the University Hospital of Northern Norway in Tromsø.
Requires better dielectric capacity
She describes a very difficult autumn with a heavy workload in the intensive care unit. Staff are ringing alarm bells, asking central authorities to wake up and make sure that hospitals on the front lines when crises do have a better chance of having a buffer capacity to gather additional resources. Paulsen is supported by Laila Furulund Strøm, department lead in the intensive care unit.
– There is a lot of pressure. As a division commander, I will provide people for the guards. Proper competence is as critical with poor patients as here. It takes a lot. We want to take care of the employees, but we also push them to take extra shifts. She adds that there is a lack of alternatives here as there is a health service in many places in the country.
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This is where the sickest Corona patients end up
The online newspaper meets the two level 9 intensive care nurses at Tromsø Hospital. The transformation is over. Soon they will come home and gather strength for a new day with great challenges.
The University Hospital of Northern Norway (UNN) has more coronary patients per day than before in this epidemic. On Tuesday, 20 of those patients were hospitalized in Tromsø in addition to one in Narvik. The numbers on Wednesday tell of 22 coronavirus patients in Tromsø, 24 in total in Tromsø, Narvik and Harstad. The area’s sickest patients end up in the intensive care unit in Tromsø. Many should have breathing assistance and some should be put on a ventilator.
– Mostly adults with some underlying disease come here, and it is possible that half of them and half of them are immune and not. What is typical is a massive hunger for oxygen. They are not getting enough air. We see this when they receive mask treatment (see fact box). They struggle with breathing, have anxiety and are afraid of suffocation. A highlight is seeing this, even for those of us tanned. It’s shocking to see people struggle this way, Paulsen says, to get enough air.
– It often ends up having to be intubated and put on a respirator, as this is the only alternative.
Physically and mentally demanding
The two describe daily life with Covid patients, which is physically and mentally demanding and requires very large human resources:
Additional resources are required with Covid patients because they are so bad, but also because we spend a lot of time when we work with infection control equipment. It takes time to simply get dressed and undressed, Leyla Furlund Ström explains. She cites turning patients as an example.
They often benefit from lying on their stomachs. So we have to be four people helping in addition to the doctor. It takes time, and it has to be done right, because it’s fatal for something to go wrong during that session.
Those caring for these patients should wear full infection control equipment.
We must be careful not to infect ourselves. It’s hot and heavy to wear a respirator with a mask, hood, and infection coat. Hear and see worse, you have to speak louder. Communication is complicated, says Rita Paulsen, so it’s challenging both physically and mentally.
I hope people can follow
The two are excited about what winter will bring. The number of corona patients this fall was more than they expected. In addition to corona, other respiratory infections contribute to the flow of patients and also to the severe absence of disease among staff. The RS virus is spread and young children who have long survived infection are now getting sick. The flu is expected to come in full force later in the season.
In a worst-case scenario, what we are experiencing now can continue for a long time. I hope people will be adept at following procedures and recommendations against coronary heart disease, Paulsen says.
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– What can we contribute as ordinary people to relieve the pressure on hospitals now?
Remember infection control measures, wash your hands, don’t cough in the room, stay home when you’re sick, get vaccinated and follow regulations put in place by municipalities, says Paulsen.
The Norwegian Directorate of Health is asking hospitals to prepare for a further increase in the number of corona patients, but says there is great uncertainty about the development in the coming weeks and months.
It won’t take long before it rains here, says Leila Furulund-Ström.
Today, intensive care nurses have to work even harder to replace the buffer that we don’t have. They have a high guard load in the first place. Here he goes 24/7. She says a lot of people are needed around the clock.
Many years with a little preparation
– We have worked for many years with little preparation. We work from shift to shift with our patient base, and there is not enough buffer for sick leave or cycle activities. In addition to all this, there will now be a double burden because many new people will be trained. They come to the field late, politicians. They knew about this. It was announced earlier, but we are constantly told that health trusts must reallocate funds when needed. It doesn’t matter in terms of the job we have to do, says Rita Paulsen.
We should have a buffer capacity in the intensive care units here and in many places in Norway. We need to build capacity to face such epidemics or other situations. Remember that there are ability challenges here in the normal weekend.
Facts: Mask treatment
In respiratory distress, patients often require ventilatory support measures to relieve symptoms and improve oxygenation. Non-invasive ventilation (NIV) therapy, also called mask therapy, is a form of treatment offered in both municipal health services and hospitals. This means that the ventilation treatment is done without intubating the patient. The patient is given an airtight mask that covers only the mouth and nose, the nose or the entire face. The effect is that the experience of wheezing (shortness of breath) is reduced, the work of the respiratory system becomes easier and gas exchange in the lungs improves.
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