COVID Frontlines

Britney Smith ’11

By September 21, 2020 No Comments
Britney Smith '11

Emergency Nurse Practitioner, Baptist Medical Center South

Montgomery, Ala.

 

How has your line of work been affected by COVID-19?

It’s been affected immensely. Over crowding in the hospital has lead to patients holding in the ER for days at a time, which is not ideal as new patients may experience longer wait times to see a provider. We’ve also had to get creative in finding ways to see our patients and keep the sick/injured away from the COVID patients to prevent spread. It’s also been a diagnostic conundrum with presentations and symptoms varying and mimicking other potential emergent problems. It’s been a learning curve for everyone.

Can you describe the current situation in your workplace?

Controlled chaos. But that’s typical of the emergency room. Not exactly typical for summer time which is usually our slow season. But we were fortunate enough to have leaders who prepared well before our peak hit so we had protocols and procedures in place when it hit hard a few weeks ago.

We’ve definitely had to get creative to make more space for incoming patients as the hospital is full and COVID patients do not get discharged quickly. We’re doing the best we can for our patients.

What have the last few weeks been like, in your own words?

The last few weeks have been stressful and hard on my mental health. Work is so much more stressful and not being able to have social interaction without fear of spread or catching the virus is awful. It’s really starting to wear me out, the constant stress of it all.

How has your home or personal life been affected by the pandemic?

My home has never been cleaner! I sanitize everything I touch when I come home after a shift. It’s just me and my husband but I still try to be careful. It’s also been really hard not seeing my family. My parents live three hours away and I’m exposed daily so I don’t feel comfortable going to visit them. I had to miss my uncle’s funeral a couple of weeks ago because my aunt has COPD and I couldn’t risk getting her sick and that was so very hard. It’s been very emotionally draining.

How did Auburn prepare you for your current role?

Nursing school at Auburn was one of the hardest things I’ve accomplished. It was so taxing mentally and it was the exact preparation I needed to exceed as a nurse.

How do you stay positive during these difficult times?

I stay positive by looking for the good, always. I think you have to in this line of work anyway. You can’t focus on the bad things that you encounter or it will absolutely consume you. I listen to music, draw, journal, and read books to escape. Exercise is also a wonderful stress reliever for me.