The Personal Sacrifices Made by Front Line Health Care Workers

The Personal Sacrifices Made by Front Line Health Care Workers

Doctor of Nursing Practice student Shalaine Corbilla works with COVID patients at Sharp Grossmont Hospital.  For her, going to work is not just a duty, it is a responsibility and one she signed up for when she became a nurse.  She recognizes she is putting herself at risk for getting the virus, but she goes to work anyway.

“I check myself every day because I have a high risk of contracting COVID because all the patients we have are either positive for COVID or suspected to have the virus.  So, I check my temperature multiple times a day. I always monitor for symptoms, which gives you an increased amount of stress because then you think, ‘oh, is that cough the start of something or does my throat hurt because I'm getting a sore throat or does it hurt because I'm dry?’ So there’s a lot of anxiety about it.”      

She spends many of her days “gowned up” and interacting with people who are very sick. She is used to that part; she is a cardiothoracic nurse.  She is not used to being face-to-face with a person she knows will not likely recover from a virus for which there is no cure.

“The patients just get sicker and the one patient that made me really, really scared was this young 40-year-old man who had no comorbidities and he came up to me and he looked so sick. I sent him to the ICU shortly after I got him.  Later, the rapid response nurse that took him to the ICU told me he died.”

How did she deal with that?

“I moved out of my house.  That’s how I dealt with it.”

Shalaine moved out of her home at the end of March and into a hotel just off Interstate 8.  She wanted to be close to work but at the same time, keep some distance between herself and her husband and other family members with whom she resides.  She wanted to keep them safe from the possibility of contracting the virus and she wanted to keep them safe from the realities of what goes on in a hospital with the sickest of the COVID patients.

“It's a scary sight to watch somebody not be able to breathe. And for me as your nurse forcing oxygen into you and have you still struggle to breathe - that is my scariest thing whenever I had somebody who was in respiratory distress, and I couldn't help them well enough. That has always been the scariest thing.”

Shalaine works with COVID patients of all ages, like the 40-year-old man she described previously or an elderly patient from a nursing facility.  Not all of them survive. But every so often, there is a moment of joy.

“Like when we finally discharge somebody who's been there for a long time. It's really nice to see the successes and to see the progression of them getting well enough to leave us. You know we just had a guy that left us and he wasn't that young. He had some comorbidities. But he went home.”

Shalaine’s family gives her the support she needs to continue to care for people who are fighting a virus we know little about.  So today, Shalaine moved back home.  She also said Sharp Grossmont is beginning to do some elective surgeries and while there are still many sick people on her floor, she believes this is a sign the patients, front line workers, and the hospital are moving forward.

Shalaine also talks about what the public does not see in the fight against Coronavirus.  Click here to watch.

begin quoteThis 40-year-old man who had no comorbidities ... came up to me and he looked so sick. I sent him to the ICU shortly after I got him.
Shalaine Corbilla

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Carol Scimone
cscimone@sandiego.edu
619-260-4730

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