VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - This month marks one year since South Georgia Medical Center received confirmation of its first COVID-19 patient.
The nurses described their experience as fearful and emotionally draining.
“We’ve had several we’ve had to sit at the bedside or be on Facetime while the family literally watched the patient breathe their last breath and you’re standing there holding a phone for the family to witness that and that’s kind of hard to do when you are the only person in the room with a dying person and you’re not even family,” said Gina Colson, Registered Nurse in Charge in the Intensive Care Unit.
Shemika Moss works in the Med-Surg Unit. They care for stable COVID-19 Patients.
The two say no one could have been prepared for this pandemic.
“We’ve seen a lot of death, a lot of pain, a lot of suffering, and probably one of the hardest parts was most of this time there was absolutely no family involvement at the bedside which is very new for us,” said Colson.
Colson says she was there when the first patient came in, they had no idea what the patient had.
She was taken to another hospital.
“You know it was scary but we had no idea what was coming down the line, it was real at that point but nowhere near as real as it got whenever our whole unit was full of 24 beds of COVID positive patients who were sick, dying and we were in a helpless state in some situations. When nothing we were doing for these patients was making a difference,” said Colson.
Colson says her floor was full for the next six to eight months.
“We would call these families and try to give them some hope when in your heart you knew there wasn’t a lot to give them but you tried telling them something they could hang on to,” said Colson.
Many patients came from miles away and were all different ages.
“We’re just connected to these people,” said Moss.
“You’re their only family when they are here a lot of times, especially when they are on her floor,” said Colson.
They tell me there are many stories and people that will stick with them forever.
“There’s always that ray of sunshine that comes through and that’s what we do it for. You never know when that’s going to be the one .. when you think they’re not going to make it, they’re going to come out from the brinks of death and come back and thank us for it,” said Colson.
One year later, they’re glad to have a vaccine.
For the next 30 days, the Dasher Memorial Heart Center will glow blue, the color of hope to many, as a display of respect and strength.
They say they’ve learned, life is shorter than we think, so never take things for granted.