They say the omicron wave is past its peak here in Connecticut. The infection rate is declining as are dailey cases. Even wastewater measurements seem to say the wave is receding.
While we didn’t have the deaths we saw with the first wave (thank you vaccines), our hospital had record numbers of admitted hospitalized patients with COVID and are still near first wave highs. How many of these patients were incidental COVID patients (admitted for something else who happen to test positive)? I don’t know.
From an EMS perspective, it seems like we are responding to more COVID patients than ever. And from a front line health care provider’s perspective it seems more coworkers have tested positive than ever. Some of this is attributable to the infectiousness, some to a definite laxing of mask/full PPE wearing (I still wear my mask everywhere).
But I am weary from gowning up, putting my arms through the decon suit, tying it around my neck and waist, wearing an N95 mask, the elastic holding it tight to my skin, and the face shield. I am weary of taking care of patients in a moving ambulance when I can’t see through the fog on the shield, and I can’t hear my patient speak through their muffled mask and the roaring of the ambulance’s exhaust fan. To hear I have to lean over so my ear is just inches from the patient’s mouth. Even after two years of this, I still reach for my pen or shears and am blocked by the tied gown. Normally, I like to work on my run form as I go, but it is too much now. When the call is over, I doff my gown and gloves, and put then in the bio bin, then I wash my hands and face, and slowly walk out to the EMS room and start my PCR. I am drained at the end of the day.
Today, I did my first COVID Treat No Transport. The patient met the criteria for nontransport (Vitals within stable limits, a caregiver to watch him, no desaturation on ambulating, alert and oriented, etc.) and he didn’t really want to go anyway. I checked him out and checked off a sheet to see that he did indeed meet all the criteria, and then I left him there with a reminder to call back if he felt worse and to expect a call from a nurse in the next 24 hours.
Later in a packed emergency department, as we weaved another patient on our stretcher through the occupied beds lining the hallways, a patient squatted on her bed, mask below her chin and crowed over and over “Hey, Yo! I got COVID! Hey Yo! I got the COVID! Right Here!” She flapped her arms and tried to capture people’s attention, but no one paid her any mind like they were all thinking “Yeah, you and everybody else.”
Then after my shift I went home and on the kitchen table was a COVID test with two red lines on it.