TheBeyondWoman Magazine Issue #11 - Page 33

to study well in high school . As a result , she didn ' t do well in her science subjects . Sandra then tried a different career route . However , she quickly discovered that accounting and business management did not bring her joy ; instead , she still felt unfulfilled . So , Sandra found her way back to college to pursue nursing .
Recognizing that there was no one-size-fits-all approach to learning , Sandra diagnosed that she needed a personalized method . " Some people are visual ; some people are naturally bright ; some can intellectualize and retain information . Everything that I ' ve accomplished educationally , I ' ve had to work hard for it . I learned how to study . I realized that I could not simply read and memorize everything and then spit it back out on the paper . I had to understand it my way . Rewrite my notes , draw diagrams as I saw it , so I can truly understand it so , when I go to take the exam , no matter how it is presented because I comprehend it , I ' m able to answer ." Sandra shared her dislike for multiple choice . " I prefer to write and write my way to an answer . But it was when I got to college ; I understood how to study and be a good student . And , you know , the rest is just history ."
The Trauma of the Pandemic
Sandra ' s advocacy for being vaccinated against COVID-19 is not based on a random cause and was not ignited by her getting vaccinated . Instead , an awareness gained by being on the frontline informed her advocacy . For the duration of the pandemic , Sandra led a critical care division expanding from 4 to 10 units encompassing more than triple the normal pre-pandemic volume . She worked alongside her staff in the critical care units at the epicenter of it all in New York City . Unfortunately , by the time the affected patients get to her critical care unit , their chances of recovery are greatly diminished . Underscoring " you cannot unsee what you have seen ," Sandra shares the impact of the pandemic from an upclose perspective .
" I still have images of walking into an ICU and seeing all these patients , including young men and women , gasping for air . I still have images of people whose bodies I ' ve helped to wrap to go to the morgue .
I can still visualize the large open ICU space created in approximately two weeks with accommodations for up to sixty patients . Every time I walked in there , as far as I could see across this wide-open space , is a sea of beds with crisp white linen lined up continuously , with well over fifty patients at any point in time , everyone on a ventilator fighting for their lives . You can ' t get rid of those images .
It ' s traumatic when you see people your age with no past medical history dying . It ' s distressing when you have to take kids in to say goodbye to their parents . It ' s upsetting when I see a woman who just delivered her baby , and a week later , she comes in with COVID . She dies and leaves that baby who will never know her , and now her daughter who is in her twenties must be the mother to the newborn , plus the five other kids she left behind . It hurts when I see people my son ' s age who are dying because they got COVID and weren ' t vaccinated ".
With a sense of reflection and sadness , Sandra expresses the trauma healthcare workers faced and the toll it has taken , as they offer care through long , exhausting shifts , compounded by the ordeal of the effects of the pandemic . " Nothing could have prepared these caregivers for this , and it became tough to deal with it ." Although some were probably thinking about retiring in a year or two , they decided it was time to go after working during the peak of COVID . Many chose to take their retirement earlier than they would have . Many younger nurses left the profession , citing " they cannot handle the workload and stress ."
Outside of the pandemic , it is usually one healthcare worker to one or two patients . So , one healthcare person is now spread three or four times in the pandemic setting , where ICUs are over capacity . According to Sandra , “ that ' s what made it so hard and still causes a lot of moral distress ” for healthcare workers . This second-guessing is due to the thinking that they didn ' t have enough time and couldn ' t stretch themselves any thinner . This overloading took frontline workers from proactive to a more reactive position , just running to save lives . “ Upfront , you ’ re asked to take on more , you do the best you can , and on the back end , you beat yourself up because you felt like you couldn ' t do enough .”
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