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'You're waiting for a hurricane,' says head of children's hospital nurses

Avery Schnieder

Behind the masks, the safety suits, the face shields and all of the rest of the personal protective equipment that protects those who provide patient care in these COVID-19 days, are the nurses who provide the core care for the rising ranks of patients.

It can be very dangerous to provide that patient care, as doctors and nurses around the world have died trying to help those fighting the novel coronavirus. Health care workers know that and show up for work anyway.

Oishei Children's Hospital Chief Nursing Officer Cassandra Church said the hospital is trying to support the nurses a lot in these times. A native of Louisiana, Church said the anticipation of a massive increase in cases is like waiting for a hurricane.

"Anticipation is almost worse than it being here, because it would be nice to just know what it's going to be like," she said. "I grew up in New Orleans, so I'm a Buffalo transplant, and I keep telling people this is what's it like down South when you're waiting for a hurricane and you're waiting for that CAT-4 or that CAT-5 to roll up on your front steps, and the nerves and the preparation prior to it arriving are awful."

For Children's, patients often include 3,200 pregnant women who receive care and deliver their babies in the hospital very year. They need information about pregnancy and COVID. Church said Children's offers online instruction to women so they can get the latest in health advice about the virus, advice which has been changing.

"There's a lot of anxiety related to being pregnant, to begin with. Whether you're first time, second time, fourth time, it's new and amazing and scary, probably all at once, and the beauty of the experts that I work with and get to lead at Oishei Children's Hospital is that we take the time to answer any and all questions."

If moms are not online, Church said in-person visits can be arranged.

"What we have done is we have arranged for some of the mothers who are unable to view things online and maybe just don't think that that's enough to get them prepared," she said. "We're meeting with them at our women's health centers to do some one-on-one education in a safe manner, after going through the appropriate screening for both my staff and the future mother."

A partnership with Jericho Road Community Health Center helps pregnant women who have trouble with English. Church said there is no known instance of the virus showing up in a newborn. Church said another good thing in all of this is that the overwhelming flow of flu cases among kids over the winter has eased.

All Kaleida sites have begun an enhanced visitor policy due to the virus.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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