LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — UCLA Medical Center emergency room nurse Marcia Santini spoke to CBS Los Angeles Tuesday from her bed, unable to sit up due to dizziness — a symptom of COVID-19.
“I want people to know that this is not a picnic in the park at all,” she said. “If you have mild symptoms, thank God. Thank God.”
Santini tested positive after her husband started having symptoms of the virus. Last week she told CBSLA that her biggest fear as an ER nurse was bringing the virus home to her family. Now, she, her husband and her 21-year-old son all have it.
“This was like someone punched me in the gut and ripped my heart out,” she said. “And I’m thinking, ‘How could this have happened? We were so careful.'”
The nurse said she gets weird sensations in her head, severe pain in different parts of her body and has lost her sense of taste and smell.
She said each family member has different symptoms and that she had to rush her husband to the hospital on Sunday due to respiratory symptoms. But while she and her family are battling the virus as home, she said she was worried about her colleagues on the frontlines of the most recent surge.
“So many colleagues across the nation that have died, we just lost two people last week at UCLA,” Santini said. “This is a tragedy.”
According to Los Angeles County public health officials, approximately 250 healthcare workers were infected every single day this week — an all-time record.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to our healthcare workers,” Dr. Barbara Ferrer, county public health director, said. “Honoring them, however, means more than sharing expressions of thanks.”
And with the regional ICU capacity falling to 1.7% on Tuesday, Santini asked who would take care of the sick if the healthcare workers can’t work?
“We’re all integral, and if you take any pieces of those puzzles out the system is going to fall apart and patients will suffer,” she said. “This is affecting everybody.”
Santini said there was talk about having to sterilize and reuse personal protective equipment once again. She said it was just one more way that frontline workers were compromising their health and safety every day.