• 18 May 2020
  • 4 min read

My experience of working as a Nurse throughout the Coronavirus pandemic

  • Katie Donoghue
    Adult Nurse
  • 0
  • 1283
"Nursing has never been challenged like this in recent years, and I am extremely proud to have been able to make a positive contribution to Ireland’s effort."

Adult Nurse, Katie Donoghue, discusses how the current pandemic has impacted her working life, and how it compares to working HIV/AIDS patients in the 1980’s.

Topics covered in this article

Introduction

How Covid-19 compares to HIV/AIDS

Families have been understandably anxious about the wellbeing of their loved ones

PPE looks frightening, especially for the residents and patients

About Katie

Introduction

I have been nursing patients with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 since the beginning of March 2020, initially in a residential community care setting with residents displaying suspected symptoms, and thereafter in a ward setting where residents were isolated, having had positive swabs.

With over 30 years experience as a nurse, 15 of which were in HIV/Isolation units in the late 80’s and early 90’s, it’s fair to say that the anticipated challenges of Covid-19 did not cause me undue professional or personal concern.

How Covid-19 compares to HIV/AIDS

8-10 weeks on, whilst the clinical challenges were as expected, the social effects of Covid-19 differ significantly, making the delivery of nursing care a little more complex.

Whilst HIV is an infectious disease, universal precautions reduce its spread, and advances in pharmacological agents nullify both the spread and gravity of the disease.

Find A Nursing Job With Care Network

Staff nurse jobs in private nursing homes

Find Out More

Those with HIV infection can safely live in a family setting, and carry on their everyday life and social activity with simple measures to prevent viral transmission.

Not so Covid-19, where the virus can hide in plain sight, those infected can be totally asymptomatic, and normal family and social activity carries a significant risk.

Alongside the necessary diligence required in maintaining stringent isolation nursing procedures, there have been additional nursing duties in respect of family care and care of our colleagues and co-workers.

Families have been understandably anxious about the wellbeing of their loved ones

Visiting being prohibited to reduce cross infection, means families are wholly reliant on nursing staff for updates and information.

Press reports giving graphic detail of disease symptomology have caused concern and anxiety.

The idea that an elderly person can contract and recover from Covid-19, even with an underlying health condition, is at odds with what families expect to happen.

But the reality is that a large majority of people are recovering without incident.

I’ve nursed several patients with significant co-morbidities, whose 2 week isolation period was unremarkable.

It’s therefore extremely important that nurses present facts and information in calm and non-sensationalist ways.

This reassurance also comes into play when advising and supporting colleagues and team members, some of whom will never have seen or experienced working or nursing with isolation precautions in place.

PPE looks frightening, especially for the residents and patients

The notion of putting a physical barrier between yourself and the client, is strongly at odds with the values and behaviour systems of empathy and nurture for those who nurse and work in healthcare settings.

People with cognitive impairment and used to set routines and surroundings find it unsettling and upsetting faced with staff in full PPE.

Likewise, those with cognitive capacity experience anxiety that they may cross infect those caring for them.

Covid-19 is a novel virus, and the past 8-10 weeks have been a learning curve.

Nursing has never been challenged like this in recent years.

The notion that an ITU nurse and a nurse working in a residential unit would be able to share a commonality of experience would previously have been unheard of.

I’ve always loved my job, and I’ve never been prouder to be a nurse than in the past few weeks.

I also want to emphasise how vital team work is, and to highlight the contribution of the team around the nurses, cleaners, porters, catering staff, who have all done their bit to answer Ireland’s call with humour and dedication.

Ancillary staff are the forgotten heroes, their contributions are key to us winning this battle, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

Katie currently works for Care Network, browse their available jobs here.

About Katie

I have 31 years experience as a qualified adult and public health nurse.

15 of those years were spent progressing from a newly qualified staff nurse to Ward Manager in HIV/Isolation units in the UK, and renal dialysis/transplantation nursing.

In 2004 I trained as a public health nurse and until my move home to Ireland in 2018, progressed through a career pathway until I achieved my desired aim of working as a Designated Nurse for children and young adults in foster care.

Coupled with the clinical experience, I have a BsC in PHN and a PGC in adult nursing, alongside specialist courses in HIV; Infectious Diseases; Palliative Care; Renal Nursing; Family Planning/Cytology and Teaching and Assessing.

I moved home after the sudden death of my father, and have since worked agency in hospital and community settings.

Covid-19 is a novel virus, and the past 8-10 weeks have been a learning curve.

Nursing has never been challenged like this in recent years, and I am extremely proud to have been able to make a positive contribution to Ireland’s effort.

About the author

  • Katie Donoghue
    Adult Nurse

I have 31 years experience as a qualified adult and public health nurse. 15 of which were spent progressing from a newly qualified staff nurse to Ward Manager in HIV/Isolation units in the UK. Coupled with the clinical experience, I have a BsC in PHN and a PGC in adult nursing, alongside specialist courses in HIV; Infectious Diseases; Palliative Care; Renal Nursing; Family Planning/Cytology and Teaching and Assessing. I'm currently working as an agency nurse with Care Network.

See all of our RGN jobs

717 jobs currently available

Search Jobs

  • Katie Donoghue
    Adult Nurse

About the author

  • Katie Donoghue
    Adult Nurse

I have 31 years experience as a qualified adult and public health nurse. 15 of which were spent progressing from a newly qualified staff nurse to Ward Manager in HIV/Isolation units in the UK. Coupled with the clinical experience, I have a BsC in PHN and a PGC in adult nursing, alongside specialist courses in HIV; Infectious Diseases; Palliative Care; Renal Nursing; Family Planning/Cytology and Teaching and Assessing. I'm currently working as an agency nurse with Care Network.

  • 0 Comments
Want to get involved in the discussion
Sign In Join