MARYLAND, USA — As Maryland continued to see a surge in coronavirus cases on Monday, the Maryland Nurses Association spoke to WUSA9 about the anxiety and concerns for front line medical staff at hospitals witnessing the rise firsthand.
On Monday, state health officials reported that more than 700 hospital beds were being used across Maryland to treat patients with coronavirus. The number marked an 80% jump in coronavirus hospitalizations compared to the same time last month.
Maryland also reported a new all-time high for its seven-day average on Monday, which is now at 1,197 coronavirus cases a day.
For Maryland Nurses Association President Dr. Charlotte Wood, the numbers added on to the list of current concerns for medical staff.
"There is a lot of anxiety," she said. "From a personal level, nurses are tired. They have a fatigue.”
Aside from helping to teach and prepare aspiring medical workers at Coppin State University for critical care nursing, Dr. Wood has also helped organize coronavirus testing at a nearby health clinic.
In her various roles, Dr. Wood has heard the troubles and concerns impacting the men and women helping those sickened with the deadly virus.
"It is really tough when you’re seeing someone who is struggling to breathe," she said. "Many of those patients have come very close to death and the nurses that are caring for them are all a part of that entire process. It is extremely burdensome. They do not walk away from these situations clean.”
As president of the Maryland Nurses Association, Dr. Wood has made it a point to reach out and hear from nurses helping to fight the pandemic.
She heard stories about a lack of personal protective equipment in some areas soon after cases of coronavirus spiked in the country.
She has heard of the long days and nights treating patients, some of whom ultimately didn't make it.
Now, with Maryland once again seeing a surge in cases, Dr. Wood wondered what could lie ahead.
"What happens when you don’t have enough nurses to staff your unit around the clock?” she said. "Our concern is let’s keep the numbers down as much as possible.”
One significant issue, according to Dr. Wood, is the timing of the recent surge.
With influenza also spreading in some parts, she said the need to quickly distinguish between the illnesses grew even more in importance.
"Does this patient have flu? Does this patient have TB? Or does this patient have COVID-19?" she said. "There are precautions that have to be taken at every different one of those levels of diagnoses.”
The surge also comes as many people continue to make holiday plans, some of which involve traveling to and from big family gatherings.
Moving forward, Dr. Wood said everyone could play a crucial role in helping to stop medical centers from being bombarded with coronavirus patients.
"The public is going to be the deciding factor," the doctor said. "It's social distancing and, I can’t say it enough, wearing a mask. If everyone were to abide by the rules, then the time that nurses have to stay with those very sick patients would really make an even more significant difference than it does today.”
As hospitals now deal with the rise in coronavirus cases, Dr. Wood believed nurses would keep answering the call and responding to the emergency.
"Nurses are extraordinary heroes in this time," she said. "Nurses are doing their absolute best to work and provide high-level care.”