Washington D.C., May 6, 2020 / 02:45 pm (CNA).- A Catholic nurse shared her experience treating new coronavirus patients at a White House event for National Nurses Day on May 6.
Maria Arvonio, a registered nurse and board member of the National Association of Catholic Nurses USA for ten years, was one of several nurses present at the White House on Wednesday to share her experience of treating patients with COVID-19 at her hospital in South Jersey.
She recalled her first time with a patient being transferred to the ICU, “this patient was so scared, you should have seen her face,” said Arvonio, who supervises the night shift at Virtua Willingboro Medical Center in a New Jersey suburb of Philadelphia.
The town of Williamsboro, in Burlington County, NJ, is in a COVID-19 “hot zone,” Arvonio noted.
With the nurses dressed in gowns, masks, and other protective equipment—“we look like we’re going to the moon, basically,” Arvonio said—she recounted touching the patient’s hand and telling her she would be “okay.”
“She didn’t wind up on the ventilator, we got her out of there,” Arvonio said. “I know it’s prayer, I know it’s the compassion of the nurse. It’s not just our science, it’s our compassion.”
Arvonio spoke directly to President Trump at the White House event for National Nurses Day. Other administration officials present included Vice President Mike Pence, coronavirus response coordinator Ambassador Debbie Birx, M.D., health secretary Alex Azar, and president of the American Nurses Association Ernest Grant.
“This is really the worst attack we’ve ever had. This is worse than Pearl Harbor. This is worse than the World Trade Center. There’s never been an attack like this,” Trump said of the new coronavirus pandemic, according to the Wednesday White House pool report.
He signed a proclamation for National Nurses Day, stating that “nurses reflect the character of America and epitomize the inexhaustible capacity of the human spirit. These remarkable caregivers exhibit professional expertise, selfless dedication, unrelenting advocacy, and unsurpassed mercy, strength, and compassion.”
Burlington County has seen more than 3,200 positive cases of the virus and 177 deaths as of Wednesday, according to the New Jersey health department.
Nationwide, there have been more than 1.1 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, and more than 68,000 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control on Tuesday.
“Throughout these years, I administer nursing care to patients with contagious diseases,” Arvonio said in her written statement for the White House, but said that the current COVID-19 is the most “concerning” of them all.
“Yet, myself and all the beautiful nurses I am blessed to work with, continue to report to work with the same dedication and love for their patients regardless of this deadly virus,” she stated.
According to the pool report, another of the event’s participants—Sophia Thomas, president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners—spoke to the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) health care workers are facing around the country. Thomas said she had been reusing her N95 respiratory mask for several weeks.
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