For many, it's unimaginable: the conversation that a health care worker must have with a patient who has a case of COVID-19 so severe that they need to be intubated and placed on a ventilator.
But in an effort to educate families of loved ones who have been intubated—as well as individuals who are not taking the pandemic as seriously as they should—an ICU nurse is sharing what that conversation looks like.
Savanna, a travel ICU nurse who is currently working in New York City, shared a POV video on TikTok to show just how emotional the moments before intubation can be.
For reference, intubation—technically called endotracheal intubation, according to the US National Library of Medicine's MedlinePlus resource—is a medical procedure in which a tube is place into a person's windpipe through the mouth or nose. That tube is then connected to a ventilator to help with a person's breathing.
"In certain patients with COVID-19, the virus infection causes pneumonia and severe inflammation that cripples the lung's function," Harvard-trained internal medicine specialist William Li, MD, previously told Health. "In these patients, having a ventilator available to support the patient can make the difference between life and certain death."
According to Savanna, telling patients that they need to be intubated and placed on a ventilator is one of her jobs.
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In the video, Savanna can be seen in full personal protective equipment (PPE) explaining the intubation process and asking whether the patient wants to FaceTime with family one last time before being intubated.
Although her voice is muffled by the PPE and only her eyes can be seen, her care and compassion are obvious
“Hey, sweetie, it’s your nurse. So you know those labs I’ve been drawing all night? Well the last one didn’t look very good, sweetie. We’re going to have to put you on a ventilator. It’s going to be OK, it’s going to be alright. Do you want me to get your family not he phone so you can FaceTime them? … You want to know what it’s going to be like? Well, I’m going to give you some nice medication so you can go to sleep, OK? You’re not going to feel any of it. And the doctors are going to put a tube down your throat to help you breathe. And you’re going to be asleep; you won’t feel any of it, OK? Don’t worry, I’m going to be with you the entire time. I’m going to be right here holding your hand. I’ll be right here with you by your side.”
"Unfortunately I have this conversation way too often," she captioned the video, which was shot to look as though she is leaning over a patient.
It's a video she wants "every antimasker, covid denier, and super spreader" to see.
"I decided to post this video…to educate people who still choose to not mask or follow social distancing guidelines," she told BuzzFeed. "…They need to understand that what may seem like a simple choice to not wear a mask on the subway could end a life and devastate a family. Small choices right now have big consequences."
But Savanna also posted the video "to educate families that have loved ones who have gone through this recently."
"I also filmed it to let people know that we are still here, and still really care for their loved ones while they are in the hospital," she said. "We spend our whole day with this one life, trying to save them, forming bonds with them, and it breaks our heart for them to have to go through this alone."
Tons of people have been moved by the video, which has now been viewed more than 594,000 times.
"This. THIS is a nurse. THIS is the compassion and care that a nurse provides. When patients feels (sic) the most frightened and vulnerable," one user commented. To this, Savanna replied, "That's what it's all about, especially during covid when we are sometimes all that they have for support."
"Your kind eyes and soothing voice are a gift," another user commented. "Your patients are lucky to heave (sic) you in the icu." A fellow ICU nurse also shared her feelings on Savanna's post: "I'm right here with you sister…I was just saying how sick I am of having this exact convo. God bless your efforts."
And when one user commented that if this situation were to ever happen to him, that Savanna would be his nurse, she said, "I pray none of us ever end up in a covid [ICU], this is my worst fear."
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