UAB ICU nurse talks about stress and emotional drain

(KEYC News Now)
Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 4:33 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - “It has been a very emotionally draining 11 months and I can speak for every nurse at UAB, I can’t wait for this to be over,” said Anderson Castillo.

Castillo is a 24-year-old nurse fresh out of school. He had no idea his first job assignment would working in UAB’s ICU. He says it’s been long, hard hours for 11 straight months and no let up in sight.

Castillo says he has taken care of patients as young as 16 and older 70. He said more than half of those in ICU now are under 50. He said it’s difficult taking care of so many people; some on the verge of death.

“You just saw one patient pass away. Walk into a new patient’s room and pretend that hasn’t happened and they have shot of making it out of here,” Castillo said.

He said some in ICU talked about how they’d do things differently if they had the chance; like wearing masks or getting vaccinated. He says they say those things early in treatment because by the time they’re on a ventilator, many can’t talk or they are coughing too much.

UAB, like most hospitals, is understaffed and they need more nurses. Castillo said he forces himself to be sure he is doing the best he can for his patient. He also admits dealing with the virus is frustrating because it changes and affects patients differently.

“We just can’t get a good grasp on how this virus is affecting each individual because it’s individualized for that patient,” Castillo said.

UAB is doing what it can to provide help and support for nurses.

“We are working to get some of our non-nursing team to the bedside. We are encouraging extra work for those folks so nurses can focus on the nursing tasks,” Dr. Terri Poe, UAB Nursing Officer said.

Poe said volunteers from the community help and there is counseling available for their nurses.

To cope with the emotion and stress Castillo said it helps to get away for dinner, or go to the beach or mountains with friends or co-workers.

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