WWJ In Depth: A Nurse Returns & Love In The Time Of COVID-19

WWJ News
April 15, 2020 - 11:50 am

On this week’s episode of In Depth from WWJ, host Rob St. Mary follows up with a nurse who tested positive for COVID-19 as she returns back to her hospital after 10 days away. Also: A local mayor uses tech to connect with her community, a therapist offers tips for handling relationships or finding love in the time of coronavirus, staying sober amid a pandemic, and more. 

“We’re not doing our typical ICU nursing – we are doing 'disaster nursing.'"

Over the past two weeks, In Depth caught up with a metro Detroit nurse who got ill with COVID-19 and then was cleared to return to work. This week, she discussed how things have changed in just the short ten days she was out of the ICU.
“It does make you wonder as a nurse “am I providing the best care I can” when we’re just treading water to try to keep ourselves safe and try to take care of patients are the same time”, she said.

At the same time, she said she has empathy for those managing the health system because “everyone keeps saying “we need more people” but with the whole country getting sick, where are you poaching staff from?”
As the virus has caused several thousand medical staffers – doctors and nurses – to show signs and/or test positive at Metro Detroit hospitals, the nurse said it’s getting harder to properly staff up.
“My fellow co-workers, quite honestly, are starting to fall like dominoes due to the coronavirus. Just in the three days I was there (last week) I had three co-workers come down with symptoms during their shifts. The last day that I worked they had so many people call in for the dayshift because they were ill that we we’re going to be extremely short handed…like almost to the point where it was really unsafe for any of these nurses to be practicing,” she said.
Due to the short staffing, her employer has started to recruit people from other divisions of the company to work in the ICU. She said the management has also reached out to retired nurses, many who haven’t been active in over a decade. The nurse said her hospital system is giving these retired nurses and other health care workers some online training and then putting them in the ICU as aides with the understanding they can learn on the job.

While she agrees more trained staff is needed to handle the workload and those who have started assisting all want to be helpful, but “that adds a whole another level of stress to patient care because not only do you have a lot of work to do to take care of these patients, but now you also have someone you’re trying to provide education and training to and that becomes pretty difficult.”

The nurse said all Metro Detroit medical systems have pledged staff to the TCF Center field hospital downtown.  But, she’s not sure how that will work since all the systems in the region appear to be at a breaking point due to limited staffing and illness. As for the field hospital at the convention center, she said only those who are relatively stable appear to be getting transferred.
Meanwhile, some good news is slowly arriving and she hopes it continues.
“We’re starting to see some evidence that the “stay at home” order or some leveling off is occurring for those who are not ICU level sick,” she said. 

The nurse said discharges for non-ICU level COVID-19 patients at her hospital surpassed new intakes. Additional good news included an empty ER for three hours at her hospital last Friday April 10th.
At the same time, discussion among hospital staff is to prepare for a second wave of COVID-19 cases starting in late May and into early June if people head back to work and the “stay home” order is lifted in Michigan. She said that’s because it will take about two weeks for exposures to happen and case loads to ramp up once more people are around each other in public.

“Just for the sample fact that as people start moving about there’s going to be some people that hadn’t been exposed to the virus that might come around people, such as myself, who could still be sheading virus even though we’re supposed to be recovered,” she said.

Her concern is due to recent studies that showed some people testing positive for COVID-19 up to two months after they were deemed recovered. So, the question becomes on related to dormancy and transmission of the virus.

“There’s a lot of unknowns… and we’ve got to start getting back to living. The question is should we just keep certain parts of the population in quarantine and then let the rest of us kind of fight it out and figure out who’s going to live or die by getting this virus because you can’t live in quarantine forever,” she said.

With the majority of the information being released daily by state and federal sources aimed at the bigger picture of how COVID-19 is impacting American life, what can local leaders do to talk to their communities directly?

Hamtramck Mayor Karen Majewski started holding morning live stream video sessions on the city’s facebook page.

“There’s so much information out there and it’s so hard to keep up. I just thought, I want to get up in the morning and know here’s what’s going on, here’s what I need to know,” said Majewski.

Each morning live stream runs about 20 minutes. It includes the latest update on the number of cases, how people and small businesses can get assistance, how people can volunteer, and usually ends with a “shout out” to a local organization or business doing great work in the community during these difficult times. Majewski said she also likes to wear the t-shirt and drink her morning coffee from a mug highlighting a local business or organization.

“It’s really been gratifying to see folks from all different backgrounds coming out to help each other,” said Majewski.

You can learn more and see the live stream archive here.

It’s safe to say couples not working, or working from home, find themselves spending more time together than probably any other time in their relationship during this outbreak.

Recent stories out of China point to a rise in the number of divorce filings after lockdown.
So, how can you keep your relationship from falling apart during these stressful times?

“You’re on top of each other and you’re afraid, and when we get afraid we get aggressive, and we can get aggressive toward our partners and toward ourselves. So, it’s so important to stay conscience of that,” said Dr. Joe Kort.

Kort is Royal Oak-based therapist with over 30 years of experience working with couples through relationships, intimacy, and sex.

He advises that couples have goodwill towards each other and find the right time to check-in to help limit the arguments that could arise during this time. “
“You don’t approach your partner when you’re in your reactive, flooded mode emotionally – you wait until you’re calm, you make an appointment, and then you have an intentional dialogue and talk through your frustrations,” said Kort.
But, what if you are single and looking for love? It’s not like you go out on a date since simple things like a “dinner and a movie” are out of the question during these times. Kort said now can be a great time to lay the ground work for a relationship that can take off once “stay home” is over. He advises that singles take the time to talk, to video chat, and really get to know each other.

“Give it a few months, get to know each other. Because, once you move to being more physically sexual it changes the relationship. So, why not give it a chance to have that courtship time,” said Kort.

Learn more about Dr. Joe Kort at www.joekort.com.

Chris Tait is a recovering alcoholic. It’s not a secret – it’s something he shares freely. Chris Tait is also a musician – keyboard player for the Detroit rock group Electric Six.
April was supposed to be the start of another U.S. and European tour for the band that spends about five month out of each year on the road.  
“I’ve always enjoyed going to 12 step meeting in person. The communication and the ability to sit at a table with somebody is something that I really cherished on and off tour,” said Tait.

A few years ago to help him keep sober, and help others in the process, Tait created Passenger Recovery. The website and app provide GPS enabled assistance to anyone seeking to find an AA or NA meeting nationwide. It’s a great resource for travelers and touring musicians.

But, with social distancing guidelines limiting a range of activities, Tait said a lot of group meetings have moved from the real world to the virtual one. Since February, his weekly in-person meeting has moved to a video conferencing platform.
While the chaos of the times and the stress can lead some to drink, Tait said he would urge people who might want to turn to drinking or drugs to get through to just take a minute and find a meeting – there is help out there.

“I would beg anyone who is considering to take pause and give it a minute and reconsider. You know, we’re human beings, our minds and our moods and our emotions change from minute-to-minute,” said Tait.

You can find more resources through the following links:

Rick Manore is a Metro Detroit native who started the respected and missed CPOP Gallery back in the 1990s. The gallery focused on rock and roll, custom car culture, and pop surrealism. The walls of the Royal Oak, and later – Midtown Detroit, gallery featured works by internationally respected artists such as Robert Williams, The Residents, Steven Cerio, and Winston Smith. Noted Detroit area artists like Glenn Barr, Mark Dancey, and Niagara also showed at CPOP before it closed in the early 2010s.

Over the past few years, Manore has been living outside of Prague, Czech Republic.
Last week, after almost a month in to lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak, Manore took time to talk to In Depth about life in his village and the fight against the virus in that Central European nation. He said orders to stay at home came fast and with rare exception little to no grousing was heard about it by the Czech people.

“They all were in solidarity. No one complained. They shut the pubs. Do you have any idea how important the pubs are here? That’s where “The Velvet Revolution” (the 1989 pro-democracy upraising against the pro-Soviet communist government) came out of. The pubs are (about) more than just drinking, it’s almost like church – it is the social center of the entire Czech culture,” he said.
Beyond life in the country during quarantine, Manore recommends two books for those looking for something good to read during these times:

“HHhH” by Laurent Binet – a story about the notorious architect of the Nazi’s “Final Solution” – Reinhardt Heydrich who was assassinated by Czech resistance fighters during World War Two.

“War with the Newts” by Karel Čapek – a classic dystopian novel written by the respected Czech science-fiction author focusing on a race of amphibians that gain intelligence and fight back against being enslaved and exploited by humans.