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Omaha nurse practitioner in COVID unit: "I just wish people could see our side"

Posted at 7:06 AM, Nov 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-23 08:06:45-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Sara Wattier is a pregnant mother of two young kids. She says she has pandemic fatigue, but as a nurse practitioner at Nebraska Medicine, it's also impossible for her to ignore COVID-19.

She has been working in the hospital's first COVID-19 unit since March. There are now ten units at Nebraska Medicine.

"Sometimes it's just full of death sometimes and then to walk into the real world that people don't think that it's real, it's been an added element of mental gymnastics," Wattier says.

She had COVID-19 which she says she did not get from a patient. As a pregnant mom, she worried about her baby and her family. Fortunately, she had a mild case. Wattier understands some people don't see the evil of this disease, but she says you never know who it'll grasp with its full might.

"I was getting out of my driving clothes and my husband came in and I just wept, I wept to him, 'I couldn't save him, I couldn't save him,' and I couldn't but we were set up to fail in some of these situations where we are fighting an enemy that we can't beat sometimes," Wattier said.

Nebraska Medicine now allows families to come say their goodbyes after being separated from the person they love. "There's no way to describe the sound that, I mean we've lost some young patients, and there's no way to describe the sound of a weeping mother knowing that there's nothing she can do to save her child, it's not fair, and to try to comfort them through that is really difficult when physical touch is so limited too," Wattier said.

Her greatest fear is that they won't have the ability to save some lives as they're trained to do. "It won't just be choosing to save a COVID patient or not, it'll be we have one ICU room left and it'll be first come first serve so if it's a heart attack or stroke or a car accident, if they're second in line, if there's no room, there's no room, and I don't know how we do that."

She says she continues doing the job because she has a lot of experience and if she's able, she believes she should.

Wattier does hope that people outside the hospital walls take action to limit the spread like wearing masks and not gathering in groups. She understands families want to gather for Thanksgiving, but she asks people to think about whether it's worth potentially watching someone you love get very sick or worse.