AURORA, IL — A local ICU nurse is sharing an honest look at the day-to-day life of health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic — and it's hitting home for many.
Carol Williams, who works in the ICU at Rush Copley Medical Center in Aurora, spends 12 hours a day with COVID-19 patients. On Thursday, she had two patients: one on a ventilator and one in critical condition. She spent her entire day watching both patients' vital signs, watching for signals that things were changing quickly and keeping the patients' families in the loop about what was happening with their loved ones.
For some patients, she encourages their loved ones to call in via FaceTime or walk along paths outside the hospital so they can see in the windows of the rooms where their loved ones are receiving care, just so they can feel like they are connected.
Williams, who lives in Plainfield with her husband, a paramedic, and their four children, has been a nurse for 17 years.
On Nov. 14, after more than eight months of caring for COVID-19 patients, Williams shared a post on her Facebook page expressing her utter exhaustion and her frustration with people who do not believe the coronavirus pandemic is as serious as it is.
On the day she wrote the post, she overheard people in a store talking about how masks were not necessary, and it hit her hard.
"Stop ignoring science-based recommendations of masking, social distancing, hand hygiene and not gathering in large crowds, they work," Williams wrote in the post. "Stop kidding yourself that this isn't going to affect you or someone you love or know, it will."
With her post, Williams shared a photo of herself that she had taken after spending five hours inside a COVID-19-positive ICU room working to save a patient.
"In this moment I felt defeated because I already knew what the outcome would be even though it hadn't happened yet," she wrote.
The photo shows Williams in scrubs, with the imprint of a mask on her face after the long day.
To date, the post has been shared more than 2,700 times and has more than 300 comments with people thanking Williams for sharing her experience and expressing what so many others feel.
During the Aurora City Council meeting this week, Mayor Richard C. Irvin was brought to tears as he recited the plea in Williams' post for the country to come together and to work together to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
"I'm so honored people are really hearing what I'm saying," Williams said. "That the mayor was personally moved and read it aloud, I couldn't believe it — I was just hoping it would reach a few friends."
While Williams typically doesn't say anything in the moment to people she sees not wearing masks or spreading misinformation about the coronavirus, she encourages everyone she knows to put their trust in the science and healthcare workers.
"If you heard what I heard at the bedside, we'd all understand why we should mask up, social distance, stay home and protect ourselves and our loved ones," she said.
Williams said she promises health care workers will fight for every patient to help them get better whether they are hospitalized with COVID-19 or any other illness.
"If everybody does their part, we'll see less and less strain for everybody," Williams said. "When somebody contracts COVID, the good thing is the stats show most people are going to do OK. But you don't know when you get it if you're going to be okay or if you're going to be impacted negatively. There's no rhyme or reason."
Just stop.....Stop thinking this is just like the flu, it isn’t . Stop telling me the survival rate so it’s not a...
Posted by Carol Williams on Saturday, November 14, 2020