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Nurse says best way to 'thank' hospital staff is following COVID-19 safety guidelines

Posted at 4:51 PM, Nov 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-27 19:10:22-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Michigan’s recent spike in COVID-19 cases has hospital staff working long hours as their facilities remain near capacity.

A registered nurse in Spectrum Health’s Cardiothoracic ICU and Emergency Department said that she is exhausted both physically and emotionally treating COVID and non-COVID patients.

Rachel Chung tells FOX 17 what they really need right now, is for the public to follow safety guidelines.

Even though West Michigan is in the middle of a surge for COVID-19 cases, for her and her coworkers at all Spectrum Hospitals, the virus never really stopped.

Chung said, “They’ve been treating COVID since the very start and now it’s affecting every single floor.”

This past spring, Chung said that the hospital was overwhelmed with support from the community.

“We had a conference room and the walls were just filled with cards and signs from either kids or families or people we had no idea who they were, and that was really beautiful, to go into work and to sit there and to read all of those signs, and look at the pictures that were drawn for you,” she said.

While meals and cards are certainly appreciated, Chung said they really just need and want everyone to wear mask, social distance, and wash their hands.

She said, “For me personally, that gives me some boost in morale, but I think just the general pulse on the hospital is, we just want people to stay home and to be well.”

Chung tested positive for COVID-19 last week and is nearly finished with a ten day quarantine.

“I consider myself incredibly lucky to have only got the milder version of it,” she said.

Chung has been fever-free for 4 days, but still can’t taste or smell much. After getting through the illness herself, she wants everyone else to take COVID-19 as seriously as she and her coworkers do.

She said, “Just within the last three weeks the patient came down to the ICU and it was the last ICU bed left in the hospital.”

That patient had to be intubated, so they could breathe. Chung said that they seemed surprised when hospital staff suggested the patient call their family before they inserted the tube into their throat.

“When my team members came out, I asked them ‘Why are you guys looking so sad and defeated?’ and it was just the fact that this patient didn’t understand the seriousness of it, of being intubated and us telling them that we don’t know when we will extubate you, when we will take the breathing tube out.”

It’s the reason why Chung will be back to work on Monday; living for the moment a COVID patient can leave the hospital, while hoping they start seeing fewer coming in.

Chung said, “It’s a simple gesture to wear a mask, to wash your hands, and to stay away from each other, and that is what we are going to continue to ask people to do.”

If you’d like to send hospital staff a message or donate meals, reach out to the Spectrum Health Foundation.

You can send an e-mail to foundation@spectrumhealth.org or call 616-391-2000 to coordinate.