British Columbia·Video

Nurse begs B.C. residents to take pandemic seriously after tear-filled night on COVID-19 unit

A B.C. nurse is pleading with people to do a few "simple things" to get the pandemic under control after an emotionally crushing shift in the COVID-19 ward of Abbotsford Regional Hospital.

Kendall Skuta made statement after patient death at Abbotsford Regional Hospital

Abbotsford nurse Kendall Skuta posted an emotional plea to Instagram after watching a patient die of COVID-19. (Submitted by Kendall Skuta)

A B.C. nurse is pleading with people to do a few "simple things" to get the pandemic under control after an emotionally crushing shift in a COVID-19 ward.

Kendall Skuta, who works at Abbotsford Regional Hospital, posted a photo of herself sobbing to Instagram on Tuesday morning after what she described as a "particularly hard shift." She explained that she had just watched a patient die of COVID-19 not long after he was transferred out of the intensive care unit.

She described watching the patient go into cardiac arrest and people running from all over the hospital to take turns doing CPR.

"After his death was pronounced, we all stood there for a minute. Silent. Exhausted. Heartbroken. Lumps formed in our throats, tears filled our eyes. We looked at each other, trying to find the words — any words. There wasn't a thing anybody could say," she wrote.

"The amount of death I've seen in the last year weighs on me every day."

WATCH | B.C. nurse Kendall Skuta describes the emotional toll of seeing patients die from COVID-19:

B.C. nurse Kendall Skuta describes the emotional toll of seeing patients die from COVID-19

3 years ago
Duration 0:28
Featured VideoA nurse at Abbotsford Regional Hospital in B.C. says seeing patients die from COVID-19 has left her "heartbroken and worn out."

Christine Sorensen, president of the British Columbia Nurses' Union, said she's heard from nurses working upwards of 70 hours a week who are experiencing severe emotional and physical exhaustion.

"Nurses are being stretched to the limit," she said.

"Our ICU nurses are seeing a very concerning increase in patients across the province."

Skuta said she constantly asks herself when the B.C. public will begin taking the pandemic seriously.

"Please, I'm begging you all. Stay home, wear a mask and get vaccinated if you're eligible. We are all exhausted, and I don't know how much more pain my heart can take," she wrote.

Sorensen echoes Skuta's plea.

"I'm very concerned. People need to do more, they need to consider whether the activities they're participating in are essential and whether they could be deferred."

Heartbroken by patient's age

In an interview with CBC News on Tuesday evening, Skuta said this death hit her harder than most.

One reason is the patient's age — not yet 60 years old, and with no major underlying conditions. She said her parents are around the same age, and it breaks her heart to think of them getting sick and dying from the novel coronavirus.

WATCH | B.C. nurse begs residents to abide by health orders:

B.C. health-care workers share heartache as hospitalizations increase

3 years ago
Duration 1:58
Featured VideoCOVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU admissions are increasing in B.C. as health care workers warn of burnout and tell of their heartache over the deaths of patients.

"A lot of people ... think everybody who's got COVID or is dying from COVID is old. He wasn't," Skuta said.

She'd also thought the patient was out of danger once he was transferred from the ICU. It was a reminder that during this pandemic, even positive developments can quickly turn into bad news.

Skuta said she felt compelled to go public with her experience after watching Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announce the extension of B.C.'s "circuit breaker" restrictions and hearing Premier John Horgan say restrictions on travel are coming later this week.

"I feel like every time Dr. Henry comes on and announces things, people either argue it or they want something different or they just blatantly ignore the things that she's saying," Skuta said.

"I just don't think people realize that the simple things she's asking for, like wearing a mask and staying home and not travelling if you don't need to, really will fix the problem. It's very simple, [they're] small things to ask, and I just wish more people would be able to see that."

With files from Anita Bathe and CBC's Daybreak North

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