Published: 24 April 2020
Research Sister Georgina Falagan-Garmon’s skills are needed more than ever as she readies herself for a return to the Intensive Therapy Unit (ITU). Across England a number of research studies have been paused because of the coronavirus pandemic to allow staff to prioritise frontline care. Part of the COVID-19 Research Voices series.
Today I woke up without my alarm, as I have done for almost a week. Tossing and turning, unable to sleep and desperately trying to think of something other than COVID-19.
I’ve had a constant feeling of impending doom since offering to go back to ITU. I can hear the alarms of the monitors, the ventilators, the infusion pumps and the adrenaline rush comes surging back.
I know my experience as a senior nurse and the skills I honed during five years on ITU are needed more than ever. But this time I know it will be different.
I want to be there on the frontline, helping my country when it needs me most; using my knowledge and skills to help save as many lives as possible. But I am also scared. I am scared by the endless news reports about the growing pandemic, that no matter how hard I try, I cannot stop myself from reading and watching. I am worried about the risk I will be putting myself and my family at by exposing myself to so many patients with the coronavirus.
The thought of returning to an environment I grew so comfortable in, where I felt like an expert in my field of nursing, now fills me with unease. But then I am reminded daily that this is completely unfamiliar territory. Not just for me but for everyone.
I am comforted knowing that I am not the only person who is scared.
I am trying to focus on the positives. I will get to utilise my skill set and flourish as a nurse. I will get to mentor and pass on my knowledge to new and junior staff, which is something I’ve always loved doing. I will get the opportunity to meet other professionals from different specialities and learn from them. I will gain new colleagues and friends. I will meet a variety of patients and be their only comfort and support during this time, particularly the patients who will not be allowed visitors.
I know it will be hard. I know it will be taxing to go back to shift work and I know it will be strange working in a new trust with different equipment, different computer systems and different policies. But I cannot sit idly by when my fellow healthcare professionals are at breaking point and patients need skilled specialists more than ever.
While it feels like I am diving into the unknown, I want more than ever to do the job I trained so hard for and love so much.
I know that as a nurse, this is the type of altruistic behaviour we all inherently possess and that we all want to be there for our colleagues and our patients when they need us most.
This is our time to come together and do the job we love. For the sake of our patients and their families.
Georgina Falagan-Garmon is a Research Sister at the Clinical Research Network West Midlands, currently working in ITU at The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust.