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Nebraska Med nurse details life inside coronavirus unit

Posted: 9:49 AM, Mar 25, 2020
Updated: 2020-03-25 12:57:44-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Those at the front lines of the COVID-19 outbreak are our doctors, nurses and health care providers. Not only are they working to keep their patients healthy, it's important they take care of themselves.

Lauren Lesiak, a registered nurse at nebraska medicine, is working in a 24-bed unit specifically for coronavirus patients. She said she is seeing an influx of patients coming in with a variety of symptoms, including a cough, fever and sore throat.

"It really just kind of depends on how severe their illness is and what underlying conditions they have that go along with it," Lesiak said.

As the number of patients increase, the potential for nurses and doctors to become exposed heightens, and the more doctors and nurses that get sick, the less staff and resources available to battle this novel virus.

"We are using our gowns that are reusable which is helpful, because at the beginning we were using disposable gowns - but these are laundry through the hospital and so we are able to reuse those," Lesiak said.

A national shortage in face masks has forced the hospital to get creative, using an ultra-violet light to decontaminate protective equipment so they can be used more than once.

Lesiak also works in the transplant unit, and many of those patients fall in the vulnerable category for COVID-19. The nurse said she is doing everything she can to protect her patients, as well as her husband and child when she gets home.

"As soon as I get home, I take my scrubs off," Lesiak said. "If I feel if I've had high contact, I'll take a shower right away before I touch my daughter or anything like that."

This pandemic is starting to ramp up in the United States, and hospitals could soon be overburdened with patients. Lesiak says Nebraska Medicine is doing everything they can to be best prepared.

"We drill for this kind of stuff- we have for years," Lesiak said. "I don't think anyone would have every expected it to be something to this magnitude."

Hear more of what Lesiak had to say.

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: UNMC nurse details life inside quarantine unit

Lauren Lesiak, a nurse at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, shares what it's like working in the quarantine area of the hospital.