ARLINGTON, Va. — Virginia Hospital Center has had its hands full with coronavirus patients the last few months and it's meant many of the health care workers have had to wear personal protective equipment for long periods of time.
"We have the second highest volume of COVID-19 cases in the state. What started out as two units turned into six units, plus the ICU and our emergency department," said Melody Dickerson, chief nursing officer at Virginia Hospital Center.
The health care workers taking care of those patients are wearing masks and other protection for hours on end.
"We started to notice nurses were starting to have some serious skin breakdown on their faces, particularly where the PPE touches the face," Dickerson said.
Nurses face skin damage from masks
Marie Basilici is a registered nurse at Virginia Hospital Center. She has experienced the bruising and chaffing on her face, but she sees it as a blessing.
"We hear stories other nurses in other parts of the country who don’t have that level of PPE we have. Sometimes when I consider what’s happening to my face, I just feel like that’s evidence of the great support we have. I have good PPE," Basilici said.
The hospital now provides nurses and doctors with skin treatment and additional protections that act like a second skin. But some health care workers say what is happening to their faces is small compared to what their patients are going through. Those patients are a constant reminder for people to remain vigilant even as things start to reopen.
"I just want everyone to know every time you wash your hands, you wear your mask, you keep your six feet, you are doing a great thing and I’m grateful for you," Basilici said.