The Department of Nursing within the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work aims to develop a new generation of advanced practice nurses whose scientific foundation and holistic approach to health is augmented by the vision and expertise of social work. Now more than ever, support for our Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) students is critical, as they are serving on the front lines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sabrina Bates, RN and MSN student, works in the new transport center at Keck Hospital of USC, created for the purpose of receiving COVID-19 patients.
While on duty, one of Bates’ closest friends was admitted, and she had to transport her to the ICU to be placed on a ventilator.
“It was shocking,” Bates said. “As a nurse you have to keep your professionalism and you have to keep your emotions at bay because this is your job, this is your work place and you have to disassociate in a good way so that you can get your work done.”
Bates worked methodically that day, processing her friend’s intake, making sure everything was done correctly, keeping herself and her colleagues safe, but also feeling confident that her friend was in the best possible place to receive care. On the way home, she had to pull over because tears were blurring her vision and she could not see the road.
“There's a human side to nursing that you forget because you’re so caught up in what you have to do for the moment, and how you need to perform and what you need to get done,” Bates said. “And you get it done. And then I forgot that… she's a good friend and she's a person, and she has a family and that family may never see her again and it breaks my heart.”
Jennifer Dixon, RN and MSN student, has been a nurse for 20 years, currently in the emergency department of a hospital in Georgia.
According to Dixon, Georgia is expecting to have a peak number of COVID-positive cases toward the end of April. The projections also estimate the state will be short 800 ICU beds.
“We’re running out of gowns and we’re running out of masks,” Dixon said. “We have been asked to just wear a cloth mask, even though the science says that you have no protection with a cloth mask. If I’m going to be on top of a patient, helping to either intubate or resuscitate, or start an IV or get blood of a patient that is sick with COVID-19, and I just have a cloth mask, it’s not helping me at all.”
They are trying to conserve their masks by wearing their N95s all shift. They wear surgical masks on top of them so they can protect them being contaminated by any droplets or particles in the air. Then, after eight hours of use, they put the N95 in a bag because they cannot throw them away, and in three days they hope the virus is dead and they put the N95s back on their faces.
Dixon wears double masks, double gloves and still the risk of contaminating the next patient weighs on her. She feels responsible for every person that comes in. She questions whether she is doing the right thing to save each person’s life; if she is doing everything she can to protect the next person or comfort a person who now cannot be with their family.
“Even in all this I am so lucky,” Dixon said. “And blessed. I wouldn’t do anything else but be a nurse. I love what I do. I feel lucky to be able to do it.”
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The University’s COVID-19 Response
USC has established four funds in response to the COVID-19 crisis to help support all areas of the Trojan community. These funds include the USC Student Basic Needs Fund, Keck Medicine of USC COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, USC Community Outreach Fund, and USC Employee Support Fund.