Michigan nurses' chilling pleas: 'I'm breaking,' 'stay home'

Nurses in Metro Detroit are using social media to describe the fight against coronavirus.

The dispatches aren't pretty.

Used medical masks. Medicine shortages. No ventilators available. Looming decisions about which patients will live and which will die.

“Do you think that that sounds safe?” nurse Mary Macdonald said during a video on Instagram. “Because we are completely out of resources.”

Macdonald, who is identified as an emergency room nurse on her Facebook page, said she was describing conditions at the Southfield campus of Ascension Providence Hospital.

She normally works at the health system’s Novi hospital but was pressed into duty at the Southfield campus. Macdonald arrived to find a facility in trauma.

In the video, which has drawn a million views, she described a scene where numerous patients were intubated. The hospital had no masks, gowns or medications to sedate patients.

Macdonald implored viewers of the video to stay in their homes.

"Don’t go out,” she said. “Don’t do anything that could put you at risk to have to see me at the end of the tunnel. I'm telling you it’s not worth it.”

An official with Ascension told The Detroit News Thursday it was taking steps to ensure it would receive supplies from its distributor and suppliers.

The hospital said it was arranging expedited shipments directly from manufacturers, assessing alternative products and using its status as a national system to make intra-hospital transfers of inventory.

“The safety of our patients, associates and providers is our utmost priority,” the hospital said in a statement.

Meanwhile, another nurse described how she and others were affected by fighting the disease.

Christine Tsourus wrote on Facebook that nurses are breaking down. She said her boss, in tears, had led a group of workers to the chapel to pray.

(Warning: Graphic language in video below)

Tsourus’ LinkedIn page identified her as a nurse with the Henry Ford Health System. It wasn’t known at which hospital she worked.

“I've never seen anything like it,” she wrote in the Wednesday post. “I am scared. How are we going to survive this?”

Tsourus said she worries about bringing the disease home with her. She no longer kisses or hugs loved ones.

She described heart-breaking scenes where scared patients enter the hospital while their families are forced to wait in their cars.

One patient was so ravaged by COVID-19 that he would have died if a nurse hadn’t been providing one-on-one care for five hours, Tsourus said.

And she gave a dire warning.

“We all know this is only the beginning,” Tsourus said.

Yet another nurse posted a video on Twitter describing similar conditions at her workplace.

The name of the nurse and her hospital weren’t divulged in the video. The person who posted the video described her as an ICU nurse in southeastern Michigan.

The nurse said she was at the breaking point after working a 13-hour shift treating two patients on ventilators.

“It honestly felt like I was working in a war zone,” she said on the video.

Among those who retweeted the video was Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The governor said Friday the dire conditions described by the nurse was the reason Michigan is working hard to ensure medical facilities receive the equipment they need.

“Our health care workers are on the front lines of #covid19 every single day and they are begging each of us to do our part,” read a tweet from Whitmer's Twitter account.

On Wednesday, state officials informed hospitals across Michigan that they would be required to shift COVID-19 patients among hospitals to ensure facilities at capacity can transfer patients to locations with empty beds. 

Whitmer and Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive, have cautioned that the number of confirmed cases will continue to climb.

On Friday, Michigan confirmed 801 new COVID-19 cases and 32 more deaths, according to state Department of Health and Human Services.

The state has now seen 3,657 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 92 deaths in the 16 days since March 10. 

Meanwhile, a shipment of over 225,000 surgical masks arrived Thursday in Michigan to aid the state’s response after they were missing from a delivery from the U.S. national stockpile earlier this month, officials said. 


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Twitter: @francisXdonnell