Long live heroes: Stories from the front lines
Olivia Decker, RN, spends her days doing swabs, breathing treatments and assessments: “I signed up for this when I decided to be a nurse.”
Olivia Decker, RN
Olivia Decker has been an emergency room nurse at Geisinger Lewistown Hospital for the past two years, so she’s used to being flexible and picking up assignments and patients wherever her help is most needed. Today, she’s most often assigned to the large COVID-19 care tent outside the emergency room/hospital entrance.
“Everyone is screened outside the tent, including anybody entering the hospital,” Ms. Decker explains. “Inside the tent, we do basic swabs, breathing treatments and assessments. The flow of the tent has changed multiple times and continues to change daily with new information and recommendations from Geisinger and the CDC.”
If patients show signs of respiratory illness, Ms. Decker and her team decide whether they should be seen by a medical provider in the tent or be evaluated in the emergency room. Patients who are stable and don’t require cardiac monitoring or extensive examinations are seen in the tent. If they’re more critical and may need to be admitted, they are seen in the Emergency Department.
“I take it one day at a time, try to gather the correct facts and try not to let the media get me worked up,” she says. “I signed up for this when I decided to be a nurse. It helps me to think of the difference we’re making in our patients’ lives right now. They’re what keep me going.”
Ms. Decker adds that support from other hospital staff and the local community has been phenomenal. “People bring food, Domino’s delivers pizza twice a day and everyone who comes through the tent is very appreciative of what we are doing.”
Her best advice to everyone right now is to stay calm and stay home. “Wash your hands, practice social distancing and understand that things are changing quickly, so please be patient with the healthcare industry right now — we’re trying to do our best for you. Reach out to Geisinger’s COVID-19 hotline with questions. It’s a great resource.”