A challenging year on the frontline during pandemic

A nurse on the frontline during the Covid-19 pandemic says the last 12 months have been challenging and a rollercoaster of emotions.

Thursday, 25th March 2021, 8:00 am
Holly Turner, a sister on Ward 12 at Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital.

Holly Turner, a sister on a respiratory support unit at Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, has been giving an insight into life on the frontline with her diary as part of the #BeatCovidNE campaign.

In her last entry, the 26-year-old said: “I’ve been working nights this week. It’s been steady and I’ve had a great team supporting me.

"Ward 12’s Respiratory Support Unit (RSU) is still full. One of the main reasons is because non-Covid patients would normally respond to treatment in a matter of days. Covid patients can take a week or longer.

"It’s a long process and with the number of admissions, it can be challenging.

“(My partner) Michael received his appointment for the vaccine. It’s great news but we do both feel apprehensive. Michael has suffered severe reactions to other vaccines.

"We know in the majority of cases most side effects of the Covid vaccine are mild and only last for a short time. Hopefully, everything will be fine or just last a few days.

“I can’t believe this is my last diary. Looking back on the past year it has been a rollercoaster of emotions.

“It’s been relentless working on the frontline. I was in my new role for one month before the pandemic hit. It’s been a challenging 12-months that’s made me realise just how resilient I am.

“Ward 12 has endured some emotional shifts. So many patients, including couples and relatives, have passed away. So many families have been left heartbroken. It's the hardest part of the job.

"Covid is so cruel. Patients can sit-up and talk to you normally but they're dying. You know as soon as you remove their mask they’ll pass away imminently.

“The whole team has found it hard. I always remind them that we are doing the very best we can. We’re giving our patients and their families the support they need. That’s all we can do.

“I’m proud to work for the NHS. It has been, and still is, challenging but in equal parts it's hugely rewarding. You can make a huge difference in someone's life.

"It's what being a nurse is all about. To hold a patient's hand while they pass away, supporting their family, to helping a patient to walk out of the ward following their recovery. Every day we give the best possible care.

“At home, Covid has meant I’m constantly worrying about my family and friends. The hardest time was when my mum and I both had Covid. Not being able to help look after her when she was so ill was devastating.

“I’ll never take for granted being able to visit my parent’s for a cuppa. It’s the small things I miss. Usually, I’d be giving my best friend a hand renovating her new house or we’d pop over to see Michael’s sister’s new baby. Along with all the missed birthdays and celebrations, I can’t wait to catch up with everyone again.

“I’m really lucky to have such a supportive fiancé. After a hard shift, I always know he’s there to talk to. I can’t thank him enough for being there for me. I just can’t wait to hopefully get married this year and move forward with our lives together.

“I also have to thank my family and friends for always being there to talk to. Especially my mum who I call after every shift. When I get home Lily, one of our dogs, is always there waiting for me. I’m so grateful when she cuddles into me in bed. It’s as if she knows when I’ve had a hard day.

“I’d like to thank everyone who has read my diaries. I hope they’ve given you an insight into what it’s like working on the frontline within the NHS. It’s been a surreal experience. One I’m proud to have been a part of.

“My final message for the North East is thank you to everyone for doing your bit. Your contributions have helped us realise a roadmap out of lockdown.

"Please continue to play your part. So with each step, we can move forward together to a brighter future.”