Indiana nurses share stories from the front lines during COVID-19 pandemic

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -Thousands of Indiana nurses are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic as the state prepares for a surge in cases.

One nurse in Central Indiana explained how an eye-opening shift pushed her to send her kids to the in-law’s home.

Jennipher Ringer knows it takes a team to get through these unprecedented times.

“We are all nurses in this together,” she said. “We got into this profession for a reason.”

Ringer made a plea on Facebook to Hoosiers. She posted pictures of her protective gear and urged people to follow the stay-at-home order.

“You better listen or you will only see a pair of eyes behind some goggles while you drift to sleep,” she wrote in her post.

She does not want you to come to the hospital unless it is an absolute emergency.

“You will save our resources in the hospital. You will save our time and energy and effort,” she said

She worries about her two teenage sons that would be a moderate to high risk if they get sick.

In her post, she said one of her kids has one lung and a very long history of respiratory problems that have landed him on a ventilator several times. Her other son had RSV as a baby that landed him on a ventilator and left him with a reactive airway disease.

“Now anytime they get colds, we are on breathing treatments and sometimes steroids. They CANNOT get sick with this!” she wrote.

An eye-opening shift recently encouraged her to send the kids to her in-law’s place for a while.

“I watched someone come in talking in a full complete sentence on a single breath and in 10 to 15 minutes that patient was no longer talking to me,” she said.

Even in uncertainty, Katie Feley at the Indiana State Nurses Association knows registered nurses are eager to help. She said it would be an understatement to say hospitals are prepared.

She said our hospitals are focusing on preparation every minute.  

“There has been shifting of beds throughout the hospital to make each and every bed at some sites are ICU capable beds,” she said.

She explained one thing nurses do worry about is the supply of personal protective equipment. She hopes lawmakers continue to push for more PPE.

Feley said many Indiana hospitals have added security. Anger is a common symptom right now and that protection is necessary during these stressful times, she explained.

On Friday, Governor Holcomb addressed questions about the number of ICU beds and ventilators. He said he has seen the numbers but he is not ready to tell Hoosiers.

State health officials said they are relying on confidentiality agreements with local hospitals when it comes to sharing critical numbers of capacity and equipment as the state faces a pending surge in coronavirus patients.

Feley with the Indiana State Nurses Association thought it was wise to not disclose that information to the public right now.

“Right now, all of us as human beings are getting a lot of information thrown at us, brought to our attention,” she said. “I think it is pertinent to share what appropriate.”

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