Nurse begs B.C. residents to take pandemic seriously after tear-filled night on COVID-19 unit

·2 min read
Abbotsford nurse Kendall Skuta posted an emotional plea to Instagram after watching a patient die of COVID-19. (Kendall Skuta - image credit)
Abbotsford nurse Kendall Skuta posted an emotional plea to Instagram after watching a patient die of COVID-19. (Kendall Skuta - image credit)

A B.C. nurse is pleading with people to do a few "simple things" to get the pandemic under control after an emotionally crushing shift in the COVID-19 ward.

Kendall Skuta, who works at Abbotsford Regional Hospital, posted a photo of herself sobbing to Instagram on Tuesday morning after what she described as a "particularly hard shift." She explained that she had just watched a patient die of COVID-19 not long after he was transferred out of the intensive care unit.

She described watching the patient go into cardiac arrest and people running from all over the hospital to take turns doing CPR.

"After his death was pronounced, we all stood there for a minute. Silent. Exhausted. Heartbroken. Lumps formed in our throats, tears filled our eyes. We looked at each other, trying to find the words — any words. There wasn't a thing anybody could say," she wrote.

"The amount of death I've seen in the last year weighs on me every day."

Skuta said she constantly asks herself when the B.C. public will begin taking the pandemic seriously.

"Please, I'm begging you all. Stay home, wear a mask and get vaccinated if you're eligible. We are all exhausted, and I don't know how much more pain my heart can take," she wrote.

Heartbroken by person's age

In an interview with CBC News on Tuesday evening, Skuta said this death hit her harder than most.

One reason is the patient's age — not yet 60 years old, and with no major underlying conditions. She said her parents are around the same age, and it breaks her heart to think of them getting sick and dying from the novel coronavirus.

"A lot of people ... think everybody who's got COVID or is dying from COVID is old. He wasn't," Skuta said.

She'd also thought the patient was out of danger once he was transferred from the ICU. It was a reminder that during this pandemic, even positive developments can quickly turn into bad news.

Skuta said she felt compelled to go public with her experience after watching Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announce the extension of B.C.'s "circuit breaker" restrictions and hearing Premier John Horgan say restrictions on travel are coming later this week.

"I feel like every time Dr. Henry comes on and announces things, people either argue it or they want something different or they just blatantly ignore the things that she's saying," Skuta said.

"I just don't think people realize that the simple things she's asking for, like wearing a mask and staying home and not travelling if you don't need to, really will fix the problem. It's very simple, [they're] small things to ask, and I just wish more people would be able to see that."