Rachel McCloy is a nurse in the Emergency Department at INTEGRIS Southwest Medical Center. She says the COVID-19 experience feels like a “hurry up and wait” scenario.

Questions About COVID-19?

An ER Nurse Asks for Patience in the Rush to Return to Normal

INTEGRIS Health ER Nurse Rachel McCloyRachel McCloy is a nurse in the Emergency Department at INTEGRIS Southwest Medical Center. She says the COVID-19 experience feels like a “hurry up and wait” scenario.

“I think we are all wondering, ‘When will the influx get here? When will we be completely overwhelmed by this?’”

She explains, “When all this started there was a sort of a grim panic everywhere you went as if everyone was trying to stuff their anxiety deep down and pretend like everything was okay, even though we all knew that this could be the worst thing we’ve experienced as a health care community.”

“But now, we are settling into a new kind of normal. We’re getting better at putting on our PPE, we’re better at knowing what to expect with suspected COVID patients and we’re becoming more comfortable with managing their care.”

But McCloy doesn’t take the seriousness of the situation for granted. “Of course, I am afraid of getting COVID-19. Is there a health care worker out there who is not right now,” she asks? “But I think it is a healthy fear. It’s a healthy fear that makes me put on my mask, gown, goggles and gloves before I go into a patient’s room. I refuse to let fear of contracting this virus control me, but I’m still going to take reasonable precautions to protect myself.”

She understands the public’s desire to return to normal as quickly as possible, but she cautions there’s still so much we don’t know about this novel coronavirus. “Nothing I have faced before during my short time in health care has scared me more,” admits McCloy. “There are a lot of unknowns in this crisis and we need the data that will only be available years after this is over. Only time will tell if we did too much or if we did not do enough.”

She continues, “I really wish society would realize that health care workers and public health officials are not ‘taking this too seriously’ or ‘over-reacting’ regarding the severity of this pandemic. Most of the public has not seen the horrors of COVID-19 close-up. Maybe the situation in Oklahoma is not as dire as in Seattle or New York City, but I hope that means that what we are doing is working and that we are ‘flattening the curve’.”

She asks for patience and continued support as we all navigate these uncharted waters together. “I would just ask the public to remember that doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, and all health care workers are still human. It’s one thing to go to the grocery store and wonder if you’ll be exposed to COVID-19, but it’s another—more terrifying thing—to be guaranteed an exposure at work. Please remember that we are experiencing new things and we are having to develop new skills. We do not know everything, but we are doing our best. Please remember that every bit of love and support that you, as a community shows us, is hugely appreciated.”

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