Nurse who serves in nation’s COVID-19 hotspot says Texas has much to learn

Nurse who serves in nation’s COVID-19 hotspot says Texas has much to learn
Leslie Guerrero, a travel nurse serving in Washington state, says she fears for her family in Lufkin where communities are only beginning to brace themselves for the disease spread to get worse. (Source: Leslie Guerrero)

(KTRE) - A Lufkin travel nurse who has served weeks in the nation’s worst-impacted city by COVID-19 said Texas has much to learn in terms of dealing with the outbreak.

Leslie Guerrero has been working in Kirkland, Washington. It’s a suburb of Seattle where the disease caused by coronavirus first surfaced. The ICU travel nurse is in a COVID-19 ward where most of her patients are in a fragile state. Many do not live.

She shares an image of herself staring into the camera with protective goggles, a mask and protective clothing. Her eyes are serious, expressing determination. She has viewed the horrors of COVID-19.

“My unit is a COVID unit. They are all 100% positive COVID,” said the ICU traveling nurse from Lufkin.

She works in two 10-bed ICU units designated for only COVID patients.

"These are the ones from anywhere from, I've seen here 40 to about 85 years old, so they are not just the patients that people, [say], ‘Oh, ok, they're not getting very sick or I might have had it. I have a little bit of fever’. No these are all mostly vented patients."

In two days time, she’s seen half to a third of her patients pass. Her job description comes with death.

“A lot more than I thought I would be dealing with," said the pensive nurse.

Like so many ICU nurses, they cope and worry more about the ones they serve.

"These people have family members. They cannot see them until they are dying,” share Guerrero. “I want people to realize this is going to happen in Texas too. That if they don't take this seriously, they will not be with their mom or their dad or their sister or their grandmother when they are dying. "

Seventy healthcare workers near her have tested positive for COVID 19. She says Washington is now weeks ahead of other states in practicing virus precautions.

“So I feel very safe here compared to Texas right now."

This mother of two even considered moving her sons to Washington because she was concerned not enough precautions were in place in Deep East Texas.

She advises a 19-year old nursing student and a 12-year old Hudson student to stay home. For once, Guerrero encourages her sons to play video games in their rooms.

Guerrero knows she is experiencing what Texas isn’t seeing right now.

"All of Deep East Texas and East Texas and if this can be seen anywhere else it's super important to break the cycle. Clean your surfaces often, do the social distancing and wash your hands. And take this very serious," she advised.

Guerrero moves on this week to another hospital in the Washington area. She’ll look into the eyes of her patients to express a ray of hope during a time of despair.

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