Cleveland Clinic nurse treating COVID-19 patients up in Michigan reflects on experience

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WYANDOTTE, MI (WJW) — Three weeks ago, Elizabeth Tosti was one of 13 Cleveland Clinic nurse volunteers who traveled to Michigan, a state hit hard by COVID 19

“They said they were losing upwards of 9 patients a shift,” said Tosti.

She says the nurses there are amazing, but it was clear they’d been through a tough time. 

“It was really upsetting to me because I’ve been a nurse for 26 years and I’ve never had to do this or do anything like that. Some of these nurses have been nurses for a year and they’re just like devastated,” she recalled.

Tosti was assigned night shifts at Wyandotte, a satellite location of the Henry Ford Health System in a suburb of Detroit. 

“They accepted us with open arms, they were completely excited, ecstatic that we were there,” she said.

She says things aren’t as heavy as three weeks ago and the ICU has been restructured.

“So there’s a clean side for surgical patients that are COVID-negative and then the rest of will get the mix of everything. The positives, as well as the rule out and negatives,” said Tosti.

She says she’s been able to help the younger nurses with sedation and any questions they may have. 

“They have it right, they just need the reassurance,” she said.

What she’s learned, is that fighting this virus is all about teamwork, especially when they’re in full personal protective equipment. 

*Read more stories about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, here.*

“You need something, you have to wait and have somebody on the outside to bring you stuff in if you don’t have what you need,” she said.

While Tosti takes care of patients in Michigan, she says the clinic has been taking care of her family, delivering hot catered meals every day.

“So I don’t have to worry about them eating frozen chicken nuggets every night,” she joked.

She misses her husband and teenage children and keeps in touch with them daily. Her daughter works at the same Cleveland Clinic hospital as her and when they video call, she’s able to say hello to her co-workers.

Tosti also rides to and from work with the other clinic nurses at Wyandotte. 

“I think it helps us a lot to like cope and get us ready for the next day,” she said.

She says Ohio’s safety measures are helping. 

“I think a lot of people don’t realize how lucky we are to not be like Michigan or New York.” And that things in Michigan are looking up. “The numbers are getting better. We’re not losing as many patients.”

*Learn more about the Cleveland Clinic, here.*

Tosti is confident we will get through this. 

“We just need to keep following directions and doing what we’re told and we’ll get through it even quicker,” she siad.

As she starts her last week in Michigan, Tosti says she’s glad to have volunteered. 

“I mean they call us heroes for coming up here. Nah, it’s these people, we’re just coming to give them some relief,” she said.


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