'We are getting hit hard. It's stressful': What MKE nurses are overcoming to help COVID-19 patients

Posted at 9:48 PM, Apr 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-04 16:05:49-04

MILWAUKEE — The front lines in the battle against coronavirus are happening in hospitals with nurses right in the middle. Some of the Milwaukee-area nurses say it is not easy, but they are leaning on each other to get through.

"We are getting hit hard. It's stressful. It's tiring," said Amanda Holly, a registered nurse who works at Ascension Columbia St. Mary's Hospital.

Holly, along with nurses at Ascension Wisconsin and Ascension Franklin, says the COVID-19 battle in Milwaukee is only getting harder. These nurses say they felt the change inside the hospitals a few weeks ago.

"Three weeks ago, we had multiple admissions throughout the day, and a lot of sick patients, and I turned to him and said, 'Are you getting scared yet?' Yeah, I am.' So I think that was kind of the turning point for us. And it's something new every day right now," said Jennifer Wanta, an RN in the intensive care unit at Ascension Franklin.

"Everyone's life in this hospital did a 180. Not only our work life but home life," said Holly.

As many people stay at home with their families, nurses like Holly, who is a mother of three, isn't spending much time with her kids.

"We sat them down. Mom's not going to be home for a while," said Holly. "When we are getting real busy, some days I stay until 11 p.m. at night. Or I pull a night shift like 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

"Some days are emotionally exhausting as well as being physically exhausting," said Wanta.

Often, they are standing with dying coronavirus patients to be their support for the family members who cannot be there.

"They are the people that are there with these patients; many aren't allowed to have visitors in the hospital anymore for the safety of their family and loved ones. So nurses are stepping up in a way they have never stepped up before," said Heather Schimmers, Chief Nursing Officer at Ascension Wisconsin.

These nurses say the way you can help them along with yourself and your family is to stay home.

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