Insights from a Nurse on the frontline of the Covid-19 pandemic | #TeamBartsHealth blogs

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Insights from a Nurse on the frontline of the Covid-19 pandemic

Brigitta Fazzini

Brigitta Fazzini is senior sister within the Critical Care Outreach Team at The Royal London Hospital. In this interview, she shares her story of what it’s been like to be on the frontline of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Hi, I’m Brigitta, originally from a small town in the countryside near Bologna, Italy.

I joined the ACCU at the Royal London in 2014 after the recruitment team came to interview me when I was living in Rome. Someone took a chance on me despite how poor my English was at the time, but luckily I got the job and I’ve been here ever since.

During my time in ACCU I’ve had the opportunity to look after the sickest and most challenging patients as well as continuous learning resources and development opportunities. The unit offers a busy but rewarding workplace where you will never stop learning. Colleagues are friendly and managers are highly supportive. You can feel the spirit of teamwork as soon as you walk in, as doctors and nurses work alongside each other with a common goal: the patient! We have been through many challenging times like the night of the London Bridge terrorist attack, but together we still stand proud of what we have achieved.

Once I completed my Critical Care MSc, I had the opportunity to join the Critical Care Outreach Team (CCOT). We are an enthusiastic small team of specialist nurses and a physio who bring critical care outside of the ICU walls. Day-to-day duties involve reviewing and looking after unwell and deteriorating patients on the wards, as well as supporting the medical and nursing staff. The team attends all medical emergencies and cardiac arrest calls, but we also deliver and promote teaching. This teaching involves recognition of deteriorating patients alongside clinical education on specific treatments and management like tracheostomy care, High Flow Oxygen and CPAP. We aim to enhance patient care and prevent deterioration and, ultimately, avoid admission to ICU.

The role on the frontline of the current Covid-19 pandemic is challenging and stressful as the pressure on critical care and the wards is immense and the acuity throughout the hospital is extremely high. We have faced many day-to-day challenges, with material and human resources having been stretched to the maximum, but I am nevertheless impressed by everyone every single day. The cleaner who is patiently emptying the wastage, the nurses who are relentlessly caring as best they can for patients, to the consultants who every day share a kind word and a smile. The virus has highlighted the sense of collaboration and unity across teams, specialities and healthcare professionals. There is now, more than ever, a widespread sense of caring for each other. This is beautiful and makes the fatigue easier to bear.

My role within the CCOT has not changed entirely, however we currently do not routinely follow step down patients from ACCU and have become a full referral service for severely unwell and deteriorating patients during the pandemic. The team has been actively involved in supporting the staff throughout the wards. We have intensively supported 13F/E as patients’ acuity has increased. Specifically, we have been involved in reviewing and managing patients on HFO/CPAP and promoting awake prone positioning. It is amazing to see all teams stepping up to the challenge. Additionally, the CCOT team has been able to support ACCU by helping on floor when needed and covering additional shifts.

Luckily, my family in Italy are well for now and hopefully no one will become unwell. I was planning to visit my parents in Italy at the end of March but obviously this was not possible because of the lockdown. We chat nearly every day waiting for the day we can physically see and hug each other again.

Being here in the UK I am thankful and feeling grateful for the amazing support and discounts offered by communities and the hospitality service. Additionally, all free food provided by charities and local restaurants have been massively appreciated and keep us going by keeping our sugar levels up!

Thank you very much to everyone for all you are doing to support the NHS. We are not heroes, but humans doing all we can to care for those who need us. Please stop stockpiling and continue to stay home to keep safe, protect the NHS and save lives”.


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