coronavirus illinois

Long Hours, Support All Part of Chicago Nurses' Lives During Coronavirus Pandemic

“These are some of the sickest patients we have seen in the hospital,” said Katie Martino, a nurse for 10 years, who works at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

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Katie Martino has been a nurse for 10 years. 

Sarita Mazurowski for eight.

Alyssa Olivieri’s mother and sister are nurses, her dad a doctor.

And Patrice Rosenberg cared for some of the first coronavirus patients at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. 

They arrive at Northwestern each day for 12-hour shifts dealing with coronavirus patients.

“These are some of the sickest patients we have seen in the hospital,” said Martino.

“I think it is overwhelming at times, because it is obviously something we’ve never seen before,” Rosenberg added. “We are taking care of a lot more patients than we are used to.”

Statewide, over 1,000 coronavirus patients are in Intensive Care Units. About three dozen patients are at Chicago’s Northwestern Hospital. Initially one unit was designated for COVID-19 patients. Now there are three units with 65 patients.

Olivieri’s medically trained family is worried.

“Yes, my parents are calling and checking up on me every day,” she said. “I do feel in walking into Northwestern almost safer than walking the streets of Chicago.”  

In his briefing on April, 7, 2020, Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker said that Illinois’ total number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose above 13,500 as the state saw its biggest single-day death toll since the pandemic began.

But people on the streets of Chicago, in the grocery stores and the neighborhoods, are similar to the ones she must nurse.

“We are feeling it in regard to what we can handle with our nursing capacity,” said Mazurowski. “My coworkers have probably been the greatest support I’ve felt throughout all of this.”

Across the country and in Illinois, nurses are being praised as heroes for the work they do.  

“It’s very humbling, honestly,” said Patrice Rosenberg. “That’s one of the things that has gotten me most emotional about all of this.”

After working three overtime shifts last week, Olivieri returned home.

“I was exhausted, and my window was open. I just heard the claps, the cheering, the loud noises, and I went, 'This is why I am doing what I am doing,” she said. “I was so emotional, it brought me to tears.”

“I don’t think this is a situation that our staff will walk away from without being affected," Mazurowski said. "It’s something we will remember for the rest of our nursing careers as well as the rest of our lives."

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