'That's somebody's mom': Saskatoon ICU nurse gives first-hand account of battle against COVID-19

·2 min read
As of Wednesday, Saskatoon had eight COVID-19 patients in intensive care, while Regina had 35. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters - image credit)
As of Wednesday, Saskatoon had eight COVID-19 patients in intensive care, while Regina had 35. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters - image credit)

Kelsey Doucette has become used to the whooshing sound of a ventilator.

For more than a year, Doucette has been caring for COVID-19 patients as a nurse in the intensive care unit at Saskatoon's Royal University Hospital.

Doucette says the hospital's ICU is full of patients on ventilators, with doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists doing minute-by-minute care.

All patients with COVID-19 are now in isolation wards, and medical personnel must put on full personal protective equipment before stepping inside.

Doucette says the ICU ward has become a stressful place, with anxious health-care providers carefully watching COVID-19 cases, looking for a spike in numbers.

As of Wednesday, eight people were in ICU beds in Saskatoon, a far cry from Regina, which had 34 patients in intensive care.

"That's always scary, not knowing what's to come," Doucette said. "It's been a long few months."

I want people to recognize that the numbers that they hear on the news is a person,. - Kelsey Doucette

Doucette says the biggest and most difficult change during the pandemic is that families and loved ones can't visit patients for fear of infection. As a result, many sick people are left to struggle without close contact from their families.

"That is really emotionally taxing for the staff and obviously for the patients and their families," Doucette said. "I would say that's the hardest part."

Doucette says it's easy to forget that every patient being cared for in the hospital is a person, with a family and a story.

"I want people to recognize that the numbers that they hear on the news is a person," she said. "That's somebody's mom, that somebody's dad, that's somebody's brother or friend or sister."

She is pleading with the public to get vaccinated as soon as possible, and to follow public health measures to avoid getting sick.

"I feel that we're on the home stretch, as far as vaccinations go," she said.

"I feel as though if we can really buckle down and follow the public health orders, stay home as much as possible, we might be able to get ahead."