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Registered nurse Lindzy Carter works in the Intensive Care Unit at Madison Hospital. CONTRIBUTED

Registered nurse Lindzy Carter tops COVID-19’s learning curve

MADISON – Lindzy Carter’s job has changed drastically since the onset on the COVID-19 crisis.

Carter, a registered nurse, has worked in the Intensive Care Unit at Madison Hospital for two years and functions as a nightshift relief charge nurse. Previously, she worked at Huntsville Hospital for three years.

Carter currently is studying to be a Family Nurse Practitioner or FNP.

“We’re constantly learning new practices and treatment modalities to treat these patients and to keep everyone safe,” Carter said. “We’ve started with minor changes, like checking our temperature before each shift and keeping the suspected and/or positive COVID-19 patients ‘1:1’ (one nurse to one patient) to minimize the spread of the disease.”

“In larger ways, we’ve learned that aerosolized breathing treatments and high-flow oxygenation increase the aerosolization of the virus, which could increase the chance that the virus could spread from patient to health care provider,” Carter said. “To combat that, we’ve adapted bi-pap machines so that the aerosolization is minimized, and we are intubating patients sooner to support their respiratory status.”

Personally, Carter has cared for three COVID-positive patients – one on a ventilator. To prevent infection spread and cross-contamination, the staff must treat a patient as ‘positive’ until the test results ‘negative,’ and the providers discontinue isolation.

Carter vividly recalls her first COVID-19 patient, who was intubated and sedated. “We were treating him with all the best practices but each day he was worse. This disease is just so new. It’s going to take lots of research before we know absolutely how best to treat and support these patients,” Carter said

Common COVID-19 symptoms are fever and respiratory distress with shortness of breath and quick drops in oxygen saturation with any body movement. However, some patients only have GI symptoms – without respiratory distress.

Carter has not worked extra hours. The hospital’s proactive stance prepared for the worst possible scenario. Madison Hospital stopped elective surgeries/procedures to free up rooms/resources for COVID-19 and ‘regular’ patients.

“Thankfully, we haven’t experienced a huge influx of patients yet. I’m thankful that management took steps to prepare for what could have been a much worse situation,” Carter said.

“Any of us ‘on the front lines’ don’t feel like we’re heroes. We’re all working together to get patients better,” Carter said. “Above all, I just feel immensely supported by those who have provided meals and reusable masks. It has definitely brought out a deeper feeling of community.”

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