Prince George ICU nurse shares what it's like at local hospital

Renee Bush, a critical care nurse at the University Hospital of Northern BC, wanted to share a little bit of what it's like to go to work every day in the intensive care unit during the COVID-19 pandemic as numbers of positive cases increase on a daily basis.

Bush grew up in Houston, moved to Prince George almost 20 years ago to get her nursing education, joined the surgical unit in 2007 and  became an ICU nurse about eight years ago.

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"I'm just a small-town girl that wants to tell her small town friends what this has been like," Bush said. "I don't want people to think that it's not happening in their own backyard."

Bush said she's afraid that people aren't going to pay attention to the restrictions put in place during the holiday season and wants people to take the coronavirus seriously.

In the north the second wave is worse than the first, she added.

"We're getting hit really hard now and I'm afraid it's going to get worse," Bush said. "We're a caring bunch of people in the north and we have to be careful and follow the rules."

This is what Bush posted to her Facebook page:

"As an ICU nurse I have dealing with Covid patients in the Prince George hospital.

I am wanting people to recognize that Covid is real in the north.

The Health Care Team is working long difficult hours and extra shifts. This is not only physically exhausting, but emotionally and mentally draining.

I am nursing critically ill patients to the best of my ability, but it hurts my heart every day to be nursing people separated from their loved ones. 

I field daily phone calls from families wanting updates about their special person that they love so much. They feel alienated and stressed that they can’t be with them. They tell me that they appreciate that we are at the bedside caring for their dad or sister or whomever it might be. They tell me little things about their loved one to let me get to know them, even if it is just a small portion of who that person is.

I hear the cracks in their voices as they talk to me, trying not to cry. They always end the conversation with please tell them I love them. Even though most of my patients are unconscious I tell them I will, and I do. It makes me cry too. I want people to remember when they see the stats that these are real people, with lives and families, they are not just numbers.

I truly connect with my patients. I go home thinking about them and their families. I have constant thoughts in my head wondering if all my patients will still be there tomorrow when I get back to work. It’s hard to just turn your brain off. Every death hurts us, we really are working so very hard.

I hear the ventilator and monitor alarms even when I am at home. My face hurts from my respirator that I wear so much, the other parts of my day I wear the same mask as all of you. I am tired, and my soul hurts.

I went into nursing because I care about people. As true northerners we all care and love our neighbours. I am asking for your help to think of others and not just yourself.

I know it sucks to not have Christmas with loves ones. I don’t get to see my family either.

Small sacrifices for the big picture are what is needed right now.

Social distancing, wearing a mask, and washing or sanitizing your hands goes a long way. It’s all we have right now to try to flatten the curve that has grown substantially.

Be kind to others, remember this is a sacrifice everyone is making right now. 

My work life has changed dramatically, but so has my home life just like yours. As the north we are one big community. We can work together to take a huge load off the healthcare system and keep ourselves safe and healthy. Please adhere to the provincial guidelines of social distancing and not having social gatherings at this time❤."

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