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On the frontlines: Doctors, nurses remain busy at Salt Lake intensive care units

Jen Jellerson, critical care director at St. Mark’s Hospital in Salt Lake City.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — With COVID-19 cases continuing to surge in Utah, local hospitals and their intensive care staff are feeling the strain every day.

Always busy in the intensive care unit

For those working on the frontlines at St. Mark’s Hospital, 12-hour days and often times coming in on the weekend is kind of the norm right now, considering coronavirus has made everything else in the world anything but normal.

Jen Jellerson, critical care director at St. Mark’s, said for her and her staff, there’s no way to ease your way into the morning. At 9 A.M., she and others are already right in the thick of it.

“It already started off busy. We are nearly at capacity,” she explained. “We are starting off full and busy.”

St. Mark’s Hospital in Salt Lake City. (PHOTO: Courtesy of MountainStar Health)

The intensive care unit she oversees has 24 beds and by the end of the day, they all will be full. 

Speaking to her roughly three hours later, around noontime, you get a sense of how much this unit is like a team. Knowing how hard it can be to just stay above water, oftentimes staffers volunteer their help, sacrificing what would be a much-deserved break.

“We did have an extra nurse that came in, she just called and was like, ‘If you guys need help I can come,'” said Jellerson. “I’m like, ‘”Yes, come on in.'”

Making the rounds

Fast-forward a full 8 hours from first speaking to Jen and it’s almost impossible to imagine how she fits everything into one day.

On this particular workday, she visited every bed in the ICU and led her team of nurses who have to do everything for the patients. That can range from setting up Zoom calls with loved ones all the way down to getting them a glass of water. Their fingerprints are on literally everything that happens and obviously, that can be emotionally draining

“This will definitely have a long-term effect on a lot of health care workers,” she said.

With Thanksgiving around the corner, Jellerson said she’s thankful for such a devoted team and devoted healthcare workers all over the state, who are helping to carry this unbelievable load.


 

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