ICU nurses say COVID patients are younger and sicker than before

Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 5:54 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 1, 2021 at 7:59 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - ICU nurses said they thought the pandemic was ending, but August brought new records with no signs of slowing down.

Jill Beierle has been an ICU nurse at UofL Hospital for 30 years. Her job has changed since COVID-19 struck Kentucky; from PPE, to hospital protocol, and even after coming home from 12-hour shifts.

“I have a process where I strip in my garage, I leave my shoes and scrubs, I have my robe and I go straight to the shower before I touch my kids or talk to my family,” she said.

She and Samuel Miles said they’re seeing an increase in young patients being admitted.

“The last shift I worked I took care of a 20-year-old and a 38-year-old,” Beierle said. “I feel like they’re coming in sicker this time. It’s hitting them harder than initially. Whereas the first go around they would come in sick and deteriorate slower, but this time around I feel like they’re coming in super ill.”

Miles said some ICU patients have asked for the vaccine when it’s too late, while others don’t regret their decisions. He said he doesn’t think people understand the magnitude of the recent spike. Miles added that he hopes people listen to the nurses who are experiencing it firsthand in the hospitals.

“I think it’s hard for people to really feel this because we don’t allow visitors into the ICU so they can’t see what exactly is going on,” he said. “So, I think you can’t have a true feeling of what it’s actually like unless you’re in there holding their hand, seeing them cry.”

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