Kyle Kreger, director of the critical care unit at Jennie Edmundson Hospital in Council Bluffs, told the Omaha World-Herald this month nurses in the unit are seeing more patients than they’re used to, for longer periods of time, and form relationships with patients.
“Just to see them slowly deteriorate over the next week,” he said, “and then ultimately to know in the back of their mind that a lot of them aren’t going to make it out of the ICU …”
Some families have written notes to the nurses to tell them what they have meant to the family. “The nurses need to hear that stuff,” Kreger said, “but it’s very difficult because they realize this person’s now gone.”
As the unit director, Kreger’s job is to make sure the staff is providing appropriate care, sometimes with fewer resources and staff, and to make sure they are mentally ready to perform it. That, he said, has been difficult.
The work has been the most difficult thing he has ever done, not just because of the patients who have died but also because of how long the pandemic has gone on.
“From the minute you wake up to the time you go to bed, if you can fall asleep, if you can shut your mind off, it’s basically all you have to think about,” Kreger said. In his case, the list includes thinking about what changes need to be made and how to adjust staff.