Nurses reflect on increase in COVID-19 patients at Bangor hospital

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 5:02 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center says it is currently caring for 52 COVID-19 patients.

That’s approaching the Bangor hospital’s all-time high of 55.

”You come into work and you’re wondering, ‘Who’s going to be on the ventilator today? Who’s going to die today? What are we facing?’” said Michelle Dunning, ICU charge nurse.

Younger, sicker, and unvaccinated.

Those are trends nurses at Eastern Maine Medical Center say they’re seeing among patients currently hospitalized with COVID-19.

“It’s very emotional. You see patients at their very worst. Families who feel helpless, nurses that feel helpless and trying to do everything that they can,” said Dunning.

”I’m a brand new nurse. This is not how I expected my first year to go at all,” said Dayna DeTour, staff nurse.

DeTour is a staff nurse on P6, traditionally a cardiac floor.

Recently it converted to caring for COVID patients only.

”It’s hard because there’s still people coming in. Heart attacks haven’t stopped, that kind of thing. People are still coming into the ED and it’s unfortunate but we’re just running out of beds to put them in,” said Meredith Blessard, staff nurse.

”Their oxygen is the biggest thing. Sometimes they’re doing okay, and then just a quick turn and they can go downhill really fast,” said DeTour.

If patients become too sick for P6, they’re sent to the ICU.

”The one thing that we hear the most when we’re sending patients down to the ICU is, ‘I wish I had gotten vaccinated,’” said DeTour.

Dunning hears the same sentiment from inside the ICU.

She says vaccinations are key to controlling the virus -- and keeping her beds unoccupied.

”You Zoom with their families as they say goodbye, as they’re getting on the ventilator, and everyone’s crying because they know that this might be the last time they talk with their loved ones,” said Dunning. “We are tired and we are exhausted and we are doing everything that we possibly can to help you. We’re looking for help also.”

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