NEW YORK (CNN) – Testing remains a major problem in the battle against the coronavirus as hospitals grapple with a shortage of test kits and long wait times for results.
This reality is particularly dangerous for healthcare workers.
A nurse says she worked for about seven days at two hospitals in New York City while infected with the coronavirus.
She went undetected because her hospital wasn’t testing the staff.
She doesn’t want to reveal her name or where she works for fear she’ll be fired.
“Two weeks ago, I was feeling back pain, a lot of back pain, and then one night had really bad chest pain,” the nurse said.
She continued to work, wearing the same gown and mask all day, patient to patient.
“I’m touching that mask. It’s on my face. I’m putting it back on. Virus flies in the air. It goes right up in my nose. It’s so easy to get contaminated when you have to put on something that already has virus on it,” she said.
Because the emergency room refused to test staff, she went there in the middle of the night when she knew a friend would be on duty.
“I said, ‘Please, just this one time, I want to make sure I don’t have it. I don’t want to spread anything,’ and so she tested me,” the nurse said.
It took five days for the results to come back. She tested positive. The nurse worries she infected staff members and patients.
The author of “Safe Patients, Smart Hospitals, Dr. Peter Pronovost, said the nurse’s story is “heart-wrenching. And as a clinician or just a human being, it’s horrible.”
Pronovost said he wishes the U.S. could do what’s being done in some other countries.
At Hadassah Hospital in Israel, utilizing tests that aren’t needed for patients, they test all healthcare workers every five days.
“We feel that this is extremely important in order to protect our entire workforce and our patients,” Dr. Yoram Weiss said.
But this can’t be done in the U.S. “Sadly we just don’t have enough tests to do that right now,” Pronovost said.
That’s how this nurse ended up working while infected. Fortunately, the nurse feeling better now and is in isolation at home.
She thinks there are other doctors and nurses working at hospitals while infected and that that scares her. “Nobody wants to get this virus,” she said.
In addition to testing kits, personal protective equipment and ventilators are also in short supply.
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