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Stories: Voices from the frontline

Roshni Chandrasekaran, RN

Roshni Chandrasekaran worked as a certified nursing assistant at Swedish Cherry Hill for four years before graduating with a nursing degree last summer.

“I worked in the Neuro ICU as a CNA, and when I started as an RN they hired me on in the same unit. The COVID unit at Cherry Hill is predominantly run by the Neuro ICU, so sometimes they’ll float us down there, which is why I’ve worked there several times in the last few weeks. What's nice is, that unit is staffed by people I know. So I feel a sense of comfort being there with my family, my work family.

“When you show up for your shift your name is on a sheet assigning you to either Neuro East, Neuro North or the COVID unit. There isn’t any time to mentally prepare for working in the COVID unit. You walk up to the door, see where your name is and go start your day in that area. So if I see that I’m in the COVID unit, I put on that new set of scrubs, open the door and just say to myself, "All right, let's do this. I've got this."

“Although I myself have asthma, I don’t mind being there, and I really do feel like I'm helping my patients, even if some pass away. But gearing up in all of that PPE can bring on anxiety and cause me to have panic attacks. Sometimes I'll have extra heartbeats, which is called ectopy. If I feel that coming on, or if I start to overheat from the mental and physical stress of caring for these sick patients, it can trigger anxiety, causing me to feel tingly and flushed. There've been times where I've needed to take a minute, leave the room, get some air and drink water.

“I’ve shared my experiences with coworkers, and some of them talk about their own reasons for feeling anxious while working on the unit. It helps to be able to find support from your friends at work. So although I have these symptoms, I deal with it in order to take care of my patients, because at the end of the day, my patients always come first.

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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.