DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Like any dedicated nurse, Lindsey Fairchild says she has not called in sick to AdventHealth in Daytona Beach since the coronavirus pandemic began.
But coronavirus fatigue had begun to wear down this dedicated, frontline health care worker.
“It is a lot of death,” Fairchild said. “It is just as simple as that. It is more death than any medical professional should experience in a lifetime. It is just like a war zone.”
For Fairchild, it is a war of the heart, since oftentimes nurses are paired one on one with patients, forming bonds outside the normal call of duty.
“We are not just nurses and staff anymore,” Fairchild explained. “We are family members. We are caretakers. We are loved ones. We are the people who sit there and listen to them cry that they do not want to be alone, and they are scared and they are lonely. You become a surrogate family for them.”
With most hospitals forbidding family members from visiting, Fairchild has lost count of the number of hands she has held: strangers who, in their final moments, looked not for a healer’s touch, but a touch to the soul.
“Thankful as I am to be about to be there, it still weighs heavy on you,” Fairchild said. “It is heartbreaking to deal with that day in and day out with no end in sight.”
Those feelings were only amplified when Fairchild found out her own father, Wayne Oney, was dying from coronavirus.
“(The nurses) called me and I was at work in the ICU, dealing with a COVID-19 patient, and they said, ‘I’m really sorry to tell you this but we have to intubate him.’ When they told me that, being a COVID-19 ICU nurse, I knew what that meant. I knew at that point he was not going to pull through.”
Fairchild got on the first flight to Ohio she could find.
“I took all my gear with me: my mask, my goggles, everything I would need as if I were going into a COVID room.”
But like her own hospital’s policy, no family, not even Fairchild, a medical professional, was allowed inside.
“I am respectful of that, and I understand that, but it is just that more difficult to know that if I were here (in Florida) and that were my patient, I could be there, but it was my dad (in Ohio) and I could not (be in the room).”
Fairchild and her family were forced to watch her father, like so many other family members who have lost loved ones to coronavirus, take his last breath behind a sheet of glass, two nurses by his side.
The intimate moment was captured in a photo and shared to Facebook.
“This is what COVID-19 looks like,” Fairchild wrote. “It’s not a statistic. It’s not a meaningless lockdown to ruin the economy. It’s not a hoax faked to rig an election. It’s a killer. It’s a painful reflection in a piece of glass.”
“If it is oversharing or not, I do not really care,” Fairchild told News 6. “People do not get to see what it is actually like to have your family dying and they are 10 feet away from you and you cannot even reach out to them. It was important to show people because I know there has been a lot of divide in this country about COVID. It has become political. It is about statistics. That takes the human factor out of it when you focus on those things.”
Maybe it’s her newfound drive to educate people on the virus, or maybe, like a good nurse, she wants to make sure we all get a spoonful of reality, even if the message is bittersweet.
“It is not a pretty picture. It is a heartbreaking picture. But those nurses sat at my dad’s bedside for three hours. They did not leave that room one time. They held his hand until he passed away and there is beauty to be found in that,” she said.