“We are not only acting as nurses right now, but we are acting as family to these patients who haven’t seen their loved ones in weeks…nursing is absolutely what I was put on this earth to do and I wouldn’t change my profession for the world.”
Caty Lazo lives in Northborough MA, where she has since resided her whole life. In December of 2019, she graduated from nursing school at the University of Rhode Island and almost immediately began her first job–as an RN at Lahey Hospital and Medical Center in the middle of a pandemic. Caty currently works on a “med surg” floor, that has temporarily been converted into a 30 bed COVID-19 unit due to a lack of space elsewhere in the hospital…
In the future Caty hopes to eventually branch out to the ICU or maybe even go back to school to become an NP, but in the meantime she’s selflessly caring for patients and acting as family to people who haven’t been able to see their loved ones for weeks. Caty shares her story with me below, including how nervous she was the first time she came face-to-face with a COVID patient and what this experience working on the front lines has taught her in such a short period of time.
What’s the biggest challenge you think you’ve faced during this quarantine situation?
My biggest challenge during this quarantine was overcoming my fear of treating COVID patients. I remember before I went in my first COVID room I was so nervous that I was shaking, trying to tell myself that I had all the right PPE on and I would be safe even though I was going to be inches away from a COVID patient. It definitely took me a while to adjust to this new norm and for the first few weeks I had trouble sleeping the night before work and had a pit in my stomach about what the next day was going to bring. I still don’t necessarily look forward to going into work, but I am definitely more well-adjusted to the routine of treating these patients. Sometimes it scares me how comfortable I have gotten with this “new normal” and I fear that I might forget a piece of PPE or do something that might put me at risk, but at the end of the day I am still being very careful and thinking about my every move on the floor.
What’s the most important thing that this experience has taught you?
This experience has taught me so much that it’s hard to name a few things. I have learned disaster nursing first hand and how to handle the ups and downs of it. This pandemic has truly challenged me and as a new grad nurse, I have never been more overwhelmed, but I quickly learned how to overcome those feeling for the greater good of my patients and coworkers. I have also learned how essential my profession truly is and how much trust the public puts on us to take care of loved ones. We are not only acting as nurses right now, but we are acting as family to these patients who haven’t seen their loved ones in weeks as well. I have learned how to be selfless and resilient after seeing things I never thought I would see. Starting my career in a pandemic was less than ideal, and when this is all over I will definitely be glad it’s over, but the lessons I learned along the way will be paramount and ultimately have made me a better nurse. The most important thing that I have learned during all of this is that nursing is absolutely what I was put on this earth to do and I wouldn’t change my profession for the world.
What have you been doing to keep your spirits up on a day-to-day basis?
I have found the outdoors to be almost a sanctuary to escape everything that’s going on and I really enjoy going for a run or walk in the woods to take my mind off everything. I also haven’t been able to see my boyfriend in over a month because of this quarantine, so we have been face timing frequently.
What has your community been doing to fight the rate of transmission? Is this how you think the situation is best handled?
The state of MA has completely shut down with tentative plans to reopen May 18th. I think that shutting down nonessential business and the “stay at home” order Governor Baker passed were the only ways that we were going to flatten the curve. Being on the front lines, I was able to see first hand how this virus targeted the middle age-elderly population and I think a stay at home order was the only way we were going to get younger people to stay home and keep their families safe.
What has been your daily routine so far during the pandemic?
I have been working three 12 hour shifts a week during this pandemic which is what I normally work. On my days off, I have been trying to get outside and run or walk my dog as much as possible! I have found that being outside is the only thing keeping me sane during this quarantine. I have been trying to find less populated hiking trails where I can take my dog and keep my distance from other people.
Who are you quarantining with?
I am currently living at my parents house but I am planning to move into an apartment closer to work, in June! I am with my Mom, Dad and younger brother, Robert. My mom and I are both nurses who are exposed to patients with the virus so we have been very strict with our social distancing and haven’t seen anyone outside the house in quite some time.
Has this travel ban/quarantine situation impacted any important plans you had laid out for the near future?
I was supposed to go visit my friend in North Carolina a few weeks ago but that didn’t happen. I also am very hesitant to make any plans for the rest of the year because I don’t know how long this is going to last and even if everyone else’s life goes back to normal, how long will I be treating these patients for and be continuously exposed and having to distance myself from everyone?
Anything else at all, you’d like to share?
This week I feel like at my hospital we finally noticed things getting better! We turned one COVID unit back to a regular unit and the caseload is going down! I am thankful for all the people that continue to social distance and quarantine themselves so we can flatten the curve and beat this virus once and for all.
Follow Metropolitan Molly updates by subscribing to my newsletter, website and on social media below:
Interested in nominating someone with a stellar story for the COVID Chronicles? Submit them, here.