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"When We Hear A Code, You Can See The Tears Well Up In Our Eyes"- An ICU Nurse Shares Her Experience Of The COVID-19 Surge


Florida has more hospitals under high or extreme stress than anywhere in the United States. That’s according to an analysis of federal data done by NPR using metrics from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. 

84% of hospitals in the state are at high or extreme stress levels because of the percent of patients hospitalized with COVID-19. 

But there is some good news: the number of patients hospitalized in Florida has - finally - started to decline. WMFE Health Reporter Abe Aboraya spoke with June Browne, an intensive care unit nurse at Osceola Regional Medical Center. 

She says the other morning, every bed of her 20-bed ICU unit was full- and there were only eight nurses to staff it.

“One nurse was so upset, she looked at me with tears and she said you know, I can turn in my badge now and go home. I can’t do this. And I said to her, I’m so sorry. I wish I could do better. I humbly apologize. Because I had to give like four of them three patients.”

The best practice for nurses in the ICU is to care for one or two patients at most. 

In previous statements, Osceola Regional Medical Center’s parent company HCA has said there’s a critical shortage of nurses because of the pandemic.

Browne says the stress of caring for so many COVID-19 patients takes an emotional toll on the nurses.

"I'm not a licensed clinician to diagnose PTSD. But I can tell you, I see symptoms of it. I see signs of it amongst us. Because when one of our patients crashes, or we hear a code...you can see the tears well up in our eyes," says Browne.

"You know, you can't cry every day. So I pray for my teammates."

Browne says she wants people to take coronavirus seriously.

"Whatever measures you choose to take to protect yourself, please take good measures. Whether you choose to take the vaccination, or you choose to wear your mask, and socially distance, please do something. It is not just for yourself. It is for the people you love. It is for the neighbors, it's for people you've never met."