Nurse’s heartbreaking open letter about losing patient to coronavirus goes viral

A nurse has shared her heartbreak at losing one of her coronavirus patients in an open letter as the country continues to battle against the pandemic.

Vicky Neville, an intensive care sister at Warrington Hospital, penned an account of her working day which has now gone viral.

In it, she describes her agonising decision to return to work early from maternity leave – so she could join her colleagues on the frontline against Covid, Liverpool Echo reports.

The letter, shared with the Nursing Times, even caught the attention of outspoken TV host Piers Morgan, who tweeted: "WOW. This incredibly powerful, moving, inspiring and at times desperately sad piece by Covid-19 nurse Vicky Neville is a stunning read.

"Covidiots who refuse to take the virus seriously should read it – then shut up. Thank you Vicky and every NHS hero."

Vicky wrote: "Being an ICU nurse isn’t for the faint hearted, especially one working through a pandemic, the job is hard enough let alone wearing full personal protective equipment (PPE).

"I’m fortunate that I work in a fantastic place, a place that throughout the first and now the second wave have shown resilience and perseverance.

"We have saved many lives and unfortunately lost lives along the way including our own staff."

Vicky's shift twelve-and-a-half hour starts at 7.45am, and she arrives in the handover room 15 minutes early.

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After a busy morning on the wards, she takes her break at 1.45pm, describing it as "the quickest part of my shift."

Picking up her letter at 2.15pm, after her break, Vicky writes: "I’m back on the unit in full PPE, my colleague tells me my patients support is increasing and they have bleeped the doctors; we start more cardiac medication and take another ABG.

"Their oxygen levels are really low and I have nowhere to go with the ventilator setting. I have the unwanted task of ringing my patient's relatives, his wife.

"I explain that their husband has deteriorated and the shift leader has said they can come in. They tell me they can’t come in as they are ill with Covid-19 themselves and there is no one else close enough that can come.

"I listen to them cry and I hold back the tears, I tell them I’m with their husband and I won’t leave him. I don’t leave him, I stay by his side for three hours, he arrested.

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"CPR for 15 minutes, we got him back; he arrested again, no CPR this time, we got him back but the third time it was too much for his body and he died.

"I held his hand through double gloves, I placed a knitted heart on his chest, my visor steaming up from tears in my eyes. He was 57, the same age as my mum.

"I rang his wife, as the doctors were down in accident and emergency with a referral and another sick patient.

"She sobbed, I explained how we did everything and I was so sorry for her loss… quite possibly the worst call I’ve ever made.

"She thanked us for trying our best, which broke my heart, as we couldn’t save him and she was alone. I couldn’t hold her hand or comfort her like we could pre-Covid-19.

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"I go behind the curtain and perform last offices, the final part of care I can give my patient. I tell them the words his wife told me and I hold his hand as I take off his wedding band, I put it in a plastic bag to be given to his wife.

"The thoughts of my own partner go through my head and how I need to tell them I love them, and how I want to cuddle my little baby boy so much.

"I ring the security team, they come shortly after, my patient goes with them and I feel a wave of sadness.

"I can’t sit down and cry; I quickly check on all the staff and patients, my colleague puts their hand on my back and asks am I okay? (No, I’m not ok); I’m fine and I thank them for their support."

Vicky finishes work and gets home at 8.30pm .

She adds: " Finally, at 9pm, I hug my baby boy who has been asleep for hours, another day I’ve not put him to bed. I hug my partner and he asks how was my day and do I want to talk about it. ‘It was fine, not tonight.’

"One day I’m going to want to talk about the patients I’ve lost, the ones I couldn’t save, the families I heard cry down the phone or the ones I managed to hold through various layers of PPE.

"I’ll mourn the dreams I had for my son’s first year and I’ll question my choices but not at the minute.

"I think anxiously if my own wedding next year may get cancelled and the thoughts of how much more my body can physically and mentally take.

"But not today, the second wave is in progress and I need to be strong enough to fight for a little bit longer."

To read Vicky's letter in full, click here.

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