Utah Nurses, ICUs stretched, even as hospitalizations stabilize

Dec 17, 2020, 8:03 AM

utah icus...

(Two workers treating a COVID-19 patient at University of Utah Hospital. Credit: Charlie Ehlert, University of Utah Health, August 19, 2020)

(Two workers treating a COVID-19 patient at University of Utah Hospital. Credit: Charlie Ehlert, University of Utah Health, August 19, 2020)

SALT LAKE CITY – COVID-19 hospitalizations have plateaued over the past few weeks in Utah, even so, the ICUs remain packed and nurses are often stretched thin.  

Jen Solomon is a nurse in the cardiovascular ICU at the University of Utah hospital. She, like many of her coworkers, has been pulled in to take care of COVID-19 patients. 

Many nurses have also taken extra shifts to help with patients.

Because of the PPE they have to wear, taking care of people can feel less personal. 

“It feels like a barrier. I’m in this weird suit because I don’t want to be exposed to what you have, but here I am to take care of you. It just feels very unnatural. I can’t imagine what it’s like from their perspective,” Solomon says. 

Although the University of Utah has relaxed its visitation policy, nurses still help patients with Zoom calls so they can communicate with family. 

However, it can also be tough to eat or go to the bathroom during their 12-hour shifts. 

“It takes a good 10 or so minutes to get on all the gear to go in the unit,” Solomon says. “Every time you leave, you have to wipe it down and do the process again when you go in. You just can’t afford…to take that much time away from the bedside.” 

Caring for so many patients has its challenges. 

“We have patients that, if they’re very, very sick, ideally they’re staffed one nurse to one patient. Sometimes we’re not able to do that. Or you’re taking care of two patients that have a lot of needs, and you’re just bouncing back like a ping pong between those two rooms all day long,” Solomon says. 

Another challenge is having enough ICU nurses. It takes months for a nurse to be trained enough to work in the ICUs. 

Because the hospital has had to pull nurses from other departments, the non-COVID-19 ICUs can sometimes be short-staffed. 

Ultimately, Solomon would like people to take precautions to protect those around them. 

“People are constantly saying, ‘The death’s rate’s so low, and it primarily just affects the elderly and preexisting conditions.’ If you sit and realize that these are people’s parents and these are people with families. Just because they have a preexisting condition…those people don’t deserve to be sick any more than we do,” Solomon says.    


How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronaviruses transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Wear a mask.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A

Utah’s Coronavirus Information

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States


We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

All News

Cloud Seeding (Utah Department of Natural Resources Division of Water Resources)...

Lindsay Aerts

State preps for cloud seeding incoming winter storm

SALT LAKE CITY — With winter weather expected Friday morning, Utah is preparing to maximize the water it can pull from the clouds. Cloud seeding is a technique the state uses to release natural chemicals into the clouds to pull more moisture out of them. Utah has an extensive network of cloud seeding stations and […]

7 hours ago

Dan Whalen, vice president of design and development for Harbor Bay Ventures, shows a rendering of ...

Carter Williams,

Developers unveil 240-foot Sugar House building, sparking criticism from many residents

SALT LAKE CITY — Developers behind a proposal to create a new zone for their property that would nearly triple the maximum height allowed in the Sugar House neighborhood’s business district contend their project won’t be quite as high as the possible 305-foot maximum. However, what they presented Wednesday drew audible gasps and groans from […]

8 hours ago

eight-year-old falls from second-story window in Eagle Mountain...

Derrick Jones

Eight-year-old falls from second-story window in Eagle Mountain

eight-year-old falls from second-story window in Eagle Mountain

10 hours ago

Poinsettias are displayed during Christmas mass at The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels...

Derrick Jones

Poinsettias, the Christmas flower, have a long history

Poinsettias have become synonymous with Christmastime, but that's not all the beautiful red and green flowers are known for.

10 hours ago

Lt. Governor Deidre Henderson speaks at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021. ...

Simone Seikaly

Utah Lt. Gov. extends filing deadline for unaffiliated presidential candidates

Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson has agreed to extend the Utah filing deadline for unaffiliated presidential candidates to March 5, 2024.

12 hours ago

wildlife overpasses...

Curt Gresseth

Feds give Utah $5.5M to build wildlife crossings near Kanab

A UDOT wildlife expert discusses building successful animal crossings to reduce collisions with vehicles.

14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Human hand holding a protest banner stop vaping message over a crowded street background....

Prosperous Utah Communities

Utah’s Battle to Protect Youth from Vaping Epidemic Faces New Threat as Proposed Rule Threatens Progress

Utah's strict standards of nicotine levels in vaping products are at risk, increasing health hazards associated with use. Read more about how you can advocate for a better future for Utah's youth.

Utah Nurses, ICUs stretched, even as hospitalizations stabilize