WCU Alumni Shares Day in the Life of a COVID-19 Unit Nurse

While being a frontline health worker during the coronavirus pandemic has been the “most challenging experience” of her nursing career, Brittany Wiener said she’s thankful for the support received from her hospital, the community and her training as a West Coast University alumnus.

Wiener, who graduated from WCU-Miami’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program in 2018, said seemingly overnight her post-anesthesia care unit was designated as the hospital’s COVID-19 area and the coronavirus patients began to flood in. Work schedules were quickly changed and hospital policies adapted, she said, to deal with the crisis.

“Some days I’m in charge of the unit and some days I’m taking patients. I’m working a lot of overtime right now to help out with the nurse-to-patient ratio so that we’re all not drowning,” Wiener said. “We cry because these patients are dying alone. We hold their hands as they take their last breath and we offer our phones to Facetime their families. Our first intubation, we were freaking out and scrambling around; now, it’s second nature. It’s come to a point where I’m calling the doctor to tell them it’s time to intubate because I’m already seeing the signs. It all seems like a bad dream. It doesn’t seem like this is real at all.”

Despite feeling overwhelmed sometimes, Wiener said she and the other hospital staff try to make the best of each day — something that’s made a little easier by reading the cards and letters sent by the community or by eating meals donated by local restaurants.

Another thing she’s thankful for, Wiener added, are her clinical instructors from West Coast University. They helped infuse her with the techniques and training she uses every day to help defeat the virus and save patients’ lives, she said.

“I had some really great down-to-earth instructors that allowed me to stay so collected and composed throughout this. They were relaxed and calm but still having a good time while doing an amazing job. I take that with me now and I am commented by others on that often,” Wiener said. “No matter what I’m feeling inside I do my best to keep myself together and do what’s in the best interest for the patient. I fight for my patients on a daily basis. It’s what they deserve and I am happy to be their voice when they aren’t able.”

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