Rinku Neupane, an ICU Nurse from New York, shares her story of providing care to COVID-19 patients

Updated: Apr 25, 2020

“Every day before leaving for my shifts, I give myself a pep talk. I tell myself that today is temporary. This time shall too pass.  

Rinku Neupane
Image: Rinku Neupane

I am Rinku Neupane, born and raised in Nepal and now living in New York, USA. I started Nursing in Nepal at the age of 16. Back in Nepal, Nursing was a popular career option for a woman. My passion for nursing grew, and I decided to come to the States for more opportunities.

Before COVID-19, the hospital environment was a happy workplace. But now things are very different. The hospital policies are different. The way we provide care is different. The way we protect ourselves while on shifts is different.

New York is the hardest hit. The entire hospital has been converted into an Intensive Care Unit (ICU). All patients that we have are COVID-19 positive patients. I am on a 12-hour night shift in the Intensive Care Unit, but the shifts usually stretch to 14 hours.

It is heart-breaking to see the patients so unwell. They are alone, vulnerable, and away from their loved ones. No one can visit the patients at the hospital. We are the only ones they have. We are the only hands they hold. We are the only goodbyes they hear. Even though we try our very best, we are so short-staffed that we cannot go patient to patient and make them video call their families. We are not in our usual uniforms. Our patients can barely see our faces. So, whenever our patients see us walking into the rooms fully covered in protective gear, they get scared.

A few weeks ago, I was working in one of the critical wards for COVID-19. While checking patients' records, I realized that many patients in the same room have the same last name. This cannot be a coincidence. It hit me so hard that many patients in the Intensive Care Unit are from the same family and this explains the criticality of the situation.

We are short of protective gears, wearing the same N95 masks for multiple days. This is not usually advised as using the same mask for multiple days puts us at high risk. On top of this, I am scared to bring the virus home. I live with my younger sister. Before leaving the hospital, I change my clothes and sanitize myself. And after reaching home, I take a very hot shower, scrub myself, and sanitize everything that I carry with me to the hospital. This routine is not normal for anyone, but we need to adapt to this.

I would like to end by requesting all to understand the situation. Whenever I commute to work, I see so many families out in the park enjoying their time. We all are giving our best to fight COVID-19, but we cannot do it alone. We need your support. Please stay home and stay safe unless it is essential to go out. Staying indoors will help flatten the curve sooner than later.”

You Humanity pays respect and gratitude to Rinku Neupane for going above and beyond to contribute towards Humanity.

If you know someone who is working for others, please share the story https://www.youhumanity.com/share-your-story

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