The community is the real front-line

The community is the real front-line

This pandemic will never be under control without being taken care of at a community level.

“We get patients after the damage is done,” Andrea Czarneski, cardiac services coordinator and ICU nurse pleas to the community. “Please, please, please believe us. This is as bad as they are saying. However, keep in mind that your overall wellness is also important and we want you to be vigilant about your overall health.”

Czarneski is one of Aurora BayCare’s nurses who has been putting her pre-pandemic role as a cardiac services coordinator aside to assist in the ICU.

“Since COVID hit our area in spring, I’ve been working in the ICU the majority of the time,” Czarneski said. “Patient care has always been something I enjoyed doing. I like getting to know people, helping patients and families understand their medical condition and their expected path to wellness. I like to explain what is expected, what is occurring and the expected course of progression and what both the patient and family needs to know for the patient to get back to a state of wellness. It’s something I love about nursing and that’s why I wanted to help out.”

Many patients she is taking care of right now don’t or can’t talk much. They are too weak. They have breathing assisted devices on and they are sick.

“Even the healthiest in the ICU have a hard time moving their arms to drink a sip of water because their oxygen levels plummet,” Czarneski said.

She and her colleagues share that patients healthy enough to carry on conversations regret they didn’t take things more seriously with masking, social distancing and handwashing. Others are in disbelief because they thought they were taking precautions to limit exposure and wish they would have been more vigilant. Many patients and family members say this is much different than the flu.

“For families that have seen their loved one pass away due to COVID-19, I’ve seen a lot of survivor guilt,” Czarneski said. “It’s not uncommon to hear families say, why did we go to that baby shower, wedding or a family event the virus was traced to having affected the recent lost loved one.”

It’s equally important to make sure the community is taking care of their own wellness – outside of the coronavirus. As a cardiac services coordinator, she knows first-hand how important it is for regular wellness exams and screenings. And, as a mom, she understands the importance of finding creative ways at home to keep a balance.

“I urge everyone to develop plans with back up plans and contingency plans in the case that one person in the household begins displaying symptoms or has close contact exposure,” Czarneski said. “I encourage all families to do this. And please isolate when needed, especially as you await pending test results.”

Making those changes means everyone can all see our loved ones when this is over.

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About the Author

Krissy Lillie
Krissy Lillie

Krissy Lillie, health enews contributor, is a public affairs and marketing leader for Advocate Aurora Health’s northern Wisconsin region. She has more than 15 years of public relations experience with a master’s degree in business, liberal arts undergraduate degree in communications and an accreditation in public relations. In her free time, she likes to explore new places with her family and binge watch reality TV shows.