Amy Mott is an intensive-care unit nurse who volunteered with International Medical Corps at Vista East Hospital in Chicago during the COVID-19 surge in spring 2020. Months later, with cases on the rise again across the US, Amy continues to work on the frontlines of the pandemic. Here, she describes firsthand what it’s like to serve as a medical professional in the midst of an unprecedented global health crisis.
“My coworkers and I are weary. We are used to long shifts, busy nights and sometimes dealing with the helpless feeling of watching a patient slip away after we’ve tried everything. We pride ourselves on working hard, pouring ourselves into our fellow human beings and working toward the wellbeing of the sick and broken people who come through our doors.
But now we’re weary in a new way. As COVID numbers increase (as most of us expected), we’re seeing our patient numbers increase and become sicker. After working long and busy shifts, we are sometimes faced with friends and family who don’t believe in COVID, or don’t want to follow any restrictions. Some of them accuse us of participating in a “conspiracy.” The topic is debated in the media and around dinner tables throughout the country. Let me be clear: no matter how bad it gets, we’ll follow our noble profession and care for anyone who comes through our door. But living in two different realities is exhausting. It drains us emotionally, mentally and physically.
We cling to the good outcomes because there are so few, but we witness poor outcome after poor outcome. People are suffering—and yet many in our country, and even my community, question whether masks are necessary to slow the spread of this disease. (They are.)
We are in this together and I find great solace and encouragement from my colleagues. We find hope in the phone calls from family members of patients, who can only hear them over the phone or internet. I am honored by these family members’ trust and want to do everything I can to repay it. This is why I and my colleagues continue, in the face of frustration and weariness.”