ARLINGTON, Va. — A Northern Virginia nurse who has been blogging about her life-changing experiences battling the virus says Governor Ralph Northam is making the right call by delaying Phase 1 reopening in Northern Virginia.
Nurse Dawn Barlow has seen plenty of patients suffering in the past few weeks, all while pulling exhausting 12-hour shifts in area hospitals.
"We need to just keep doing what we’re doing. We’re not ready to open back up,” said Barlow to WUSA9. I think we just started hitting peak here last week and we’re nowhere near the top of the peak yet. So it’s going to get worse in this area before it gets better.”
The regional hospitals where Barlow says she's been working exhaustingly, are holding their own by creatively converting areas designed for other uses to makeshift Intensive Care spaces.
She reports there is enough personal protective equipment to keep her and co-workers safe.
She credits area leaders and hospital managers with preventing a "New York crisis scenario" by effectively preparing.
But she warns the hospitals where she has been working are nearing capacity.
Barlow has been documenting her experiences through her Nursing Through coronavirus blog.
Her latest post is titled: “In This Area The Curve Is Not Flat Enough.”
Barlow writes about children sick with COVID-19: “We found out that another child had to be flown from our hospital to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore because there were not enough ECMO machines in our hospital for everyone that needs one." ECMOs are heart-lung machines.
Dawn’s back story includes 30 years of nursing.
“I started with AIDS. There was a lot of hysteria then, with everyone afraid we were going to catch AIDS just by touching patients. This is that magnified to the tenth degree. It's so much worse."
Barlow added that "the thing that’s so surprising, is how quickly people tank once they have trouble breathing.”
"Just this week we began using gowns that are the consistency of garbage bags. It's very uncomfortable wearing them. You just start sweating the moment you put them on."
Barlow has also written about emotional impact of personal friends who are now battling COVID-19.
"It is draining. But this is a calling," she said. "I go to work everyday to serve."
Barlow says she copes with prayer and faith and does not live in personal fear of the virus because she is well trained in infection control.