COLORADO SPRINGS — This Thanksgiving, as COVID-19 cases surge in Southern Colorado, most of us can agree we are grateful for our health care workers.
News5 spoke with two nurses working on the COVID-19 floor at Penrose-St. Francis Hospital on Thanksgiving. Normally, a holiday shift at the hospital is calm, but not this year. "It's been a rough shift today and it's Thanksgiving, so that can be hard... Patients dropping their stats, and not looking well, and one needing to be transferred to the ICU, and you know, just running from room to room, from unstable patient to unstable patient," said Karen Kaiser, a registered nurse who has worked at the hospital for over two years.
Another nurse on the COVID-19 floor, Crysta Polanco, said they are starting to see worse outcomes and poorer prognoses among patients. "It has been, overall, I think a little bit more sad on the floor. We have more patients that are not doing well in general," said Polanco.
Polanco also said they are seeing many more patients than they did in the spring.
Still, they said they are pushing through. "I think a lot of people, they feed into that fear-mongering idea, or the conspiracy theories, but this is a real thing, and we're getting hit really hard right now," said Kaiser.
In addition to the increase in patients and workload, nurses have also stepped into familial roles in some instances, especially when someone is reaching the end of their life. "I'm happy to do that for those patients that need it, but I can't imagine dying without any of my family around me. That would be really hard," said Polanco.
While Polanco and Kaiser worked a busy morning, many were preparing for the Thanksgiving holiday. "To those that are home alone, just know that we're with you, and we're grateful for your efforts. And for those that are choosing to gather, just be careful," said Kaiser.
News5 also asked what the two nurses are grateful for this year. "I'm happy that my kids are healthy, and that I'm not in the position that some people are in right now, where they're saying goodbye to their family members," said Polanco.
Centura Health is not reporting their COVID-19 numbers publicly. Those with the corporation issued this statement explaining the decision.
“The pandemic’s public health and economic impact on individuals, families, businesses, and our communities has been unprecedented. It is not our intent to further disrupt health, well-being, or economic development. We made and kept our commitment since March to put our caregivers first, be transparent in our reporting to help inform public health decision making, and be strong public advocates for strong public health measures. ICU capacity – which frequently changes day to day or even multiple times a day – is just one of the metrics we report twice daily. That number alone – absent other important measures – does not provide a reliable or even a meaningful view of our capabilities. We remain committed to our mission to care for all patients at Centura’s Penrose and St. Francis hospital.”