/ by UK HealthCare
We recently joined hospital staff for a few days to document the reality of treating COVID-19 patients in UK HealthCare clinical settings.
This edited interview is part of our ongoing series, “UK HealthCare: Voices from the Front Lines,” highlighting stories and perspectives from our frontline staff who care for the sickest COVID-19 patients since March 2020.
Kevin Hatton, M.D., is director of ECMO and other high-intensity support services at UK HealthCare.
Can you describe UK HealthCare’s Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit?
This is our high-acuity unit where we take care of folks who have heart, lung, and other kinds of severe organ failures.
How many ICU beds are available?
Here in our cardiovascular ICU, we have 32 ICU beds. A significant portion of our beds are taken up by very severe COVID patients, quite honestly limiting the number of cases and the ability to provide … heart care to the degree that we would want to in our community.
Can you tell me a little bit about how your staff has been dealing with this latest surge?
Our staff has been phenomenal. Every time we've asked, they've given. I think for me, my problem is that we've asked and asked and asked and asked — and they've given and given and given.
And they're great, they're wonderful. But boy, are they exhausted. Boy, does it hurt emotionally. We become invested in these patients. You become invested in their families, in their stories, in their communities and who they are. And then to lose them or to see them here again after being off for a week, or seeing the heartbreak and the headache and the awfulness of all this is hard. It's hard on all of our staff.
What's the most important thing that you want people outside this hospital to understand about what's happening her?
Understand that COVID is real, that COVID is serious, that COVID is life-changing in ways that we don't even understand today — for our families, for our patients, for our staff, COVID is real.
Take the chances that you have to protect yourself. Protect your family. Vaccination, masks, social distancing — take it seriously.
Please don't become one of the patients in our units. Please don't let your family become a patient in our unit. We will take care of you, but I don't want to have to.