Nurse shares experiences working on COVID-19 front lines

AdventHealth nurse talks about what it's like to be treating seriously ill coronavirus patients

Felicia Haines has been on a dedicated COVID-19 team at the downtown Orlando AdventHealth campus since the first surge of cases in Central Florida.

Orlando – Felicia Haines has been on a dedicated COVID-19 team at the downtown Orlando AdventHealth campus since the first surge of cases in Central Florida.

News 6 morning anchor and health reporter Kirstin O’Connor spoke to Haines in a Zoom interview about the reality of fighting the coronavirus while she the local nurse was on a break from treating patients.

O’Connor: Your job normally is to go in and help save lives, but this has been kind of going above the call of duty in many ways, so tell me, how this experience has been?

Haines: Initially a little overwhelming with the initial surge, of course, and really like nothing we’ve really seen before, you know, it’s a lot different than the flu. We kind of compared it to that a little bit but it’s totally different than the flu in just that initial, seeing how sick the patients really were, that’s just really jarring. But being able to participate and help in any capacity that I could find my way into was really fulfilling, honestly. Just getting to be part of the cause and help the patients, because that’s obviously our bottom line, we want them to be well, we want them to get better, we want them to recover and I feel like I was really able to do that.

O’Conner: Was there ever a fear for your own safety or your family or anyone around you because of the line of work that you’re in?

Haines: That’s always on the forefront of my mind, like, what am I going to bring home to my kids? My husband is also a first responder so we kind of approach this in, what are our options? How do we manage this kind of situation? Because we can’t just hang up the towel, like, you know, my patients still need me and I have a job to do and I know what I signed up for. However, with our situation here, we’ve been educated on what the virus is, how it’s transmitted, what kind of PPE we’re using, why we’re using it, so there’s a lot of education that’s gone on for us. So that’s been really beneficial, just being in the know, understanding how things work, why we’re doing certain things, how we’re being protected.

O’Conner: So you’re really on the front lines of all of this?

Haines: We’re up close and personal with them. My role in the ICU initially was with a group called the Prone Team, so we were utilizing kind of physical therapies to help our patients breathe better with different positions so we’re in there, kind of on top of the patient. So when you say front lines, yes, but I guess we don’t really think of it that way, you know, we’re constantly with our patients all the time, it’s just what we do.

O’Conner: It sounds like you’ve come out of the initial surge feeling like you made a difference.

Haines: Yeah, it’s been very rewarding especially when you see the patients do get better or just get better quickly and are downgraded from an ICU to a Progressive Care Unit or Intermediate. They’re talking, they’re smiling, that part is really exciting.

O’Conner: What was it like to have the support of the city and people around you?

Haines: It’s really flattering and you know, it’s kind of hard to take that praise when it’s not just one person doing it, we’re all a team, we’re doing it together. We don’t really know what the next day is going to be like but we still show up and do what we’re supposed to do, kind of, like, that integrity. You do the right thing when no one is looking and we show up to work and that’s what we do.

About the Authors:

Tara Evans is an executive producer and has been with News 6 since January 2013. She currently spearheads News 6 at Nine and specializes in stories with messages of inspiration, hope and that make a difference for people -- with a few hard-hitting investigations thrown in from time to time.