Ventilators and breathing equipment in a room.
Ventilators and breathing equipment in a room. [Image courtesy of University Hospitals]

Focusing on the front lines: Julie Bodie and Pierre Moreau

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AVON LAKE, Ohio ­– There 3.8 million registered nurses according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, many of whom are fighting on the front lines during the coronavirus pandemic.

Some healthcare workers have seen a change in their day-to-day tasks since COVID-19 has taken over Cleveland hospitals. Julie Bodie, a respiratory therapist in the neo-natal intensive care unit at University Hospitals and Pierre Moreau, a nurse anesthetist at The Cleveland Clinic, are seeing changes in their departments.

Each morning and evening Bodie reports how many available ventilators the unit has to the Ohio Department of Health in the case that they need to pull from other departments within the hospital. But if the unit were to run out of available ventilators, an ethical dilemma arises.

Julie Bodie posing for a selfie in the NICU equipment room

“If because of COVID-19 our ventilators are depleted and we don’t have any, and a mother should come in and have babies or a baby that are pre-mature and need to go on a ventilator, then we won’t have any supplies to give them,” Bodie said.

With a potential lack of supplies, it forces a tough decision by doctors and parents.

“So then the parents and doctors are faced with decision of potentially having the death of a baby or very poor outcomes because they are not able to put them on a ventilator,” she said.

Not only is NICU facing tough ethical choices, the operating rooms are as well.

Moreau creates anesthetic plans for each patient prior to surgery, but those plans have changed since non-essential surgeries have been postponed. Instead, anesthesiologists are creating ways to decrease the risk of spreading the disease to patients during surgery.

Pierre Moreau posing for a picture in an operating room

“We try not to ventilate these patients, so we do not place the viral contents into the air via the patient’s airway,” Moreau said.

With the surgeries postponed, anesthetic teams have the possibility of being converted into intensive care teams.

“Potentially we’ll be utilized as ICU nurses instead of anesthesia providers,” Moreau said. “We’ll be using those anesthesia machines as ventilators in the OR’s to help people out.”