A week on the frontlines

A covid-19 memoir as seen in the MICU (Medical Intensive Care Unit)

In some ways, this isn’t new for any of us. “Sickest of the sick” is what they’ve always said about our patients. Every day a confrontation with life, death, and – more often – something strangely in between. But this week is different.

Nurse Practitioners hold hands with one another and hold speaker phones to dying patients’ ears so their loved ones can be “near” at the end. Outside, other nurses hold vigil, supporting those inside, doing what they have always been called to do: comfort.

Respiratory Therapists are frontline warriors, donning powered, air-purifying respirators, entering the battle zone to do the work of helping people breathe.

Environmental Services is Getting. It. Clean. (I see you Leola!)

Pulmonary/Critical Care fellows are stepping up to the plate with their invaluable airway expertise, working at high risk to themselves.

Divisional leadership is on the unit, seeing and being seen. Every day.

The MICU team: Olympic medal contenders, world class performers, coming together as one finely tuned violin, playing the exquisite and heartbreaking tune of the moment.

Lessons I wish the general public would learn: Stay at home. Those of us who can’t would love to have the problem of being at home safely with our families. Wash your hands. Help flatten the curve. Pray, meditate, and send healing vibes to all healthcare workers. We do this for you.

Submitted by:

Shara Viles, DNP, ACNP-BC

University of Alabama at Birmingham 

Division of Pulmonary/Critical Care 

Nurse practitioner, trying to spread love & be the change

Instagram: sharatothefullest

Twitter: @SharaViles


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