Local nurse describes COVID patient nightmare and the horror of hospitals with so many cases

As COVID cases rise and more people arrive at emergency rooms, hospitals are feeling the strain.

“COVID is the worst thing I’ve ever seen in the hospital environment. It’s devastating,” stated Registered Nurse Dylan Tooljian.

Tooljian, an RN at local hospitals in Philadelphia and New Jersey, says he is tired. He took time to share with FOX 29 and their viewers what it is like to have COVID-19 in the Intensive Care Unit.

Being on a ventilator is only the start.

“Have a machine attached to a tube that goes down your throat, down your windpipe, into your lungs. It provides breaths for you. It’s not comfortable. It’s painful,” Tooljian described.

To bring an ounce of comfort patients are sedated, Tooljian explains. But, then things become even more insufferable when patients are turned on their stomach to aid in breathing, a technique called prone positioning.


“It helps gravity expand the lungs to get more air. That’s very uncomfortable. Patients are left to lie on their face and chest and stomach for 16 hours or longer to promote oxygenation,” Tooljian said.

For those near death, the treatment only intensifies. A form of life support called ECMO is enacted. A highly painful, last-effort treatment.

“The blood supply is pulled out of the body and circulated through an oxygenator, a huge machine that sits at the bedside and then returned to the body, super oxygenated through cannulas which are about the size of garden hoses. One in the neck and one in the groin. The entire experience is excruciating,” Tooljian remarked.

He’s speaking out, to try and get folks to understand what every day is like in his hospitals.

“The unit I work in has 30 beds and the 30 beds are full every minute of every day. As soon as we can move a patient out, there are five, six, seven waiting to come in,” Tooljian added.

While it’s only one tool, he hopes the vaccine is taken by all in order to help end the nightmare.

“I hope that the vaccines will be well received and people will vaccinate in really high numbers. Herd immunity is only achieved at about 70 percent, plus, and we’re not even close to being there,” Tooljian commented.


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