Access Now: AORN COVID-19 Clinical Support

Archive May 2020 XXI, No. 5

Stepping Up During the Pandemic Response

There's been no shortage of help from ORs in the care of COVID-19 patients.

Daniel Cook

Daniel Cook, Editor-in-Chief


NATIONAL PRIDE Surgical staff from around the country remain dedicated to helping their communities get through the pandemic.

Working in the ICU comes as a culture shock to surgical professionals who have grown accustomed to the immediate gratification of caring for patients where successful outcomes are the norm. "I was cleaning the bed of someone who had died, getting ready for the next patient and another chance," says Joana Borgonos, RN, pausing before finishing her thought. "That was a tough day."

It was the toughest of many tough days the operating room nurse at New York Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital in Manhattan has endured since trading in her scrubs for an isolation gown to help care for COVID-19 patients during this unprecedented worldwide pandemic. She helps administer medications, place feeding tubes and reposition patients, tasks she hasn't performed since nursing school. "It's sad to see patients who are very sick, but I'm glad to help," she says.

Ms. Borgonos is not used to working 12-hour shifts, which have been physically and mentally demanding. It's nearly impossible to stay hydrated or grab a quick bite to eat during the five hours between breaks when she's layered in a gown, N95 mask and full face shield. She never has two days off in a row. She works night shifts after day shifts. When she finally climbs into bed, rest is fitful. "It's hard for me to sleep," she says. "I wake up often knowing I have to be back at work in a few hours to do it all over again, to try to make it through the day without crying."

Ms. Borgonos has undergone two open heart surgeries to correct congenital abnormalities, the most recent two years ago. "My friends and family pleaded with me to take a leave of absence so I'm not exposed to the coronavirus, but I can't help myself," she says.

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