Perhaps no group is more deserving of the question “How are you doing?” than nurses.
For 10 months, they have been on the front lines dealing with some of the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m tired. I’m very tired, and I’m very ready for this to be over,” said Marissa Dobbins, a 29-year-old ICU nurse at UCHealth in Denver, Colorado.
“It’s felt just like a big lack of human connection. Most of the reason I got into nursing was because I love humans and I wanted to help them,” added Morgan Quinn, a 29-year-old ICU nurse who works alongside Dobbins.
Combined, the two have been part of the UCHealth system for nearly a decade and say things now have not changed much since March, when COVID-19 was still new and its trajectory was uncertain.
To date, just under 400,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, many of whom have spent their final moments with no one other than nurses who do not only shoulder the weight of care, but in most instances, the weight of entire families
“The weight of knowing that you’re the only person in [the ICU], I remember when that first hit me at the beginning of the pandemic,” said Dobbins. “I was like, 'If I don’t say something or do my job to the best of my ability or advocate for my patient, there’s no one else that will.'”
Long hours, emotional stress, and few people who truly get it, Dobbins and Quinn say it can be overwhelming, if not for the bond they have forged with each other through this crisis.
“There’s no way we could’ve done this without each other,” said Dobbins.
“People at work are more understanding of [what we go through], and when you’re unpacking, they kind of talk you through it, get you through it, but it’s also kind of nice to dump it on someone,” added Kellie Lind, who also works with Dobbins and Quinn.
As for what we, on the outside, can do? Dobbins, Quinn, and Lind all say that wearing our masks, washing hands, and remaining socially distant helps out their mental state more than we know, as they are the ones tasked with dealing with the ramifications of our actions.