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Stories: Voices from the frontline

Rick Foster, RN

Rick Foster has worked as a nurse at Swedish Edmonds for nearly three years—half of that time in the ICU—and was part of a team that cared for the first patient with COVID-19 at the hospital.

“There wasn’t anything gradual about this outbreak. It just seemed to come on all at once. 

“One of the biggest differences between life in the ICU before COVID-19 and now is that you find yourself isolated a lot now, doing a lot of things in the patient’s room by yourself. We’re trying to limit exposure, so only one or two people will be in the room at a time. 

“It’s hard for the doctors outside the room to just look at the patient and know what’s happening, so a lot of times it will be up to me to communicate to them what I’m seeing, what I need, what needs to be done. We use whiteboards, we write on the windows, we do whatever we can. 

“It’s interesting, though, because this environment has also caused me to be better about planning ahead. You can’t just go in and out of a patient’s room, because of the PPE limitations and what it takes to get in there, so you have to think of everything that might come up and how you’ll need to respond. You can’t get in there, realize you forgot something and think, ‘Oh, I’ll just go back out and get it.’ 

“Sure, you worry about being exposed to COVID-19, but we get exposed to lots of things in the ICU. Just prior to the COVID outbreak, we had a patient in the Edmonds ICU who tested positive for TB. And many of us were taking care of this patient before we knew. So it’s something we live with and deal with every day.

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PHOTO GALLERY: Take a virtual tour of our hospitals to see how our caregivers are responding to COVID-19 and working to reduce its spread.