A look inside an Edmonton intensive care unit full of COVID-19 patients

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An Edmonton RN shared her daily experience in an intensive care unit to try to paint a picture of her reality for other Albertans.
Since November 1, the number of COVID-19 patients in Alberta’s ICUs has increased from 28 to 137 by December 15.

Lisa Gaglione works with these patients every shift and has posted a preview of her work on Facebook.

“Our patients are typically admitted from one of the hospital’s COVID (-19) units, typically requiring more oxygen than that unit can provide,” she explained.

In her post, Gaglione said her intensive care unit looks like a war zone.

“The monitors are everywhere. Computer stations – trying to walk down the hall is like trying to squeeze through a maze without tripping over everything, ”she says.

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“Everyone is screaming because we can’t hear anything. We are masked, inside the rooms, the glass doors are all closed, it’s noisy.

The capacity of the intensive care unit at the Gray Nuns Community Hospital has grown rapidly to try to adapt to the influx of patients with COVID-19.


Registered nurse Lisa Gaglione says the corridors of the intensive care unit are full of equipment.



Courtesy: Lisa Gaglione


Gaglione said that for health workers this means they have to act faster and try to juggle multiple patients at once.

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“You are called in 17 different directions at the same time and often there are three people who need me and I’m like, ‘OK, what’s the most important thing here?'”

READ MORE: ‘It could have been avoided so easily’: Disastrous ripple effects of lying about being COVID positive

She said that in one shift, she walked 10 kilometers without leaving her unit.

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“There is no break in anything. Alarms go off, and often if an alarm goes off in one room, the nurse is in the other room. And if you’re in the hallway, you’ve got to take care of it. It is constant on and off the PPE.

In addition to the usual tasks that health workers perform, they must also act as surrogate family members for patients, as visitors are not allowed into the ICU.

“They are afraid. They are terrified and we are the only ones holding hands and it is killing us, ”explained Gaglione.

“You want to do the best you can for your patients, but there are so many of them.”

Giving updates to family members is also emotionally draining.

“There is nothing like calling a loved one at four in the morning and telling them their mom or dad needs to use a breathing tube,” she says.

Sometimes, before Gaglione can even get home from her shift, she needs to rest in her car.

“I think all of us on the front lines are struggling every minute. Sometimes we’re okay, sometimes we’re not – like right now, ”she said, her voice shaking.

Gaglione said the work seems endless.

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“We receive endowment texts almost every day. They need staff to come because there are shortages, ”she said.

“It’s beyond what we’ve already planned to work on and there are a lot of nights we all go there between 8:30 pm and 9:00 pm at night. It’s a 12 hour shift, and the thought of coming back makes us cry.

READ MORE: ‘Really worried about the future’: Edmonton mother with baby at NICU pleads with public

Gaglione said to help heal the influx of COVID-positive patients, staff in other areas are helping take shifts in the ICU.

“All these redeployed staff from the NICU, ER, medicine, recovery room, operating room – we have a ton of people helping us,” she said. declared. “They can’t handle the meds, the ventilator, or the intensive care, but all that other stuff – taking a phone call from a patient’s family member, restocking our PPE carts – it just helps us manage our time because we don’t We don’t have the time and we don’t have the intensive care staff.

“These people are immeasurable to us.”

Gaglione said hospital staff continue to adjust to the new workloads and do the best job they can, but as the pandemic continues, it is hurting everyone’s mental and physical health.

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“It’s terrifying,” she said. ” It’s exhausting. I know these words are widely used, but we live them.


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Alberta ICUs fill up with COVID-19 patients


Alberta ICUs fill up with COVID-19 patients

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