Erynne A. Faucett, MD, was pregnant with twins at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic when she was put on bed rest and then hospitalized due to worsening complications.
A pediatric otolaryngologist at Phoenix Children’s Hospital and assistant professor of otolaryngology at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science in Phoenix, Dr. Faucett said absences on the floor meant nurses were taking care of more patients than usual.
“Staff were definitely tired and spread thin,” she said. “They were working more and longer hours. Nurses were taking care of sicker patients, so you could tell they were getting burned out.” She added that there were a lot of call outs due to nurses having been exposed to the virus or showing symptoms.
Dr. Faucett could tell that not knowing who had COVID-19 and who didn’t was a stressor for staff—it was stressful as a patient knowing that her nurse was probably taking care of COVID-19 positive patients, too. For infection control during her hospitalized bed rest period, Dr. Faucett, like other patients, was not allowed to leave her hospital room.
“My wife was unable to visit me until the time I was induced,” she said. “She would drop off food at the entrance of the hospital, and the nurses would drop it off to me.” Dr. Faucett was, however, able to continue working, doing telemedicine appointments from her room.
When the twins were born, they spent 24 days in the NICU where other babies born to sick COVID-19-positive mothers were cared for by the same nurses. “It was sad that these babies couldn’t have any visitors, and the only one to hold them was the nurse on for that shift,” she said.
Ultimately, Dr. Faucett’s twins were moved from the NICU and placed into the overflow unit as part of the NICU was being turned into a COVID-19 ICU unit for adult patients.
Dr. Faucett said she learned something about priorities from her experience as a hospitalized patient during the pandemic. “It reminded me that physicians, nurses, and other healthcare workers are putting the lives of their patients ahead of their own and their own families,” she said.