Providing Care, But Protecting the People You Love
Clinical takes you deep into the heart of the institution that is a hospital. Hosts Stephen Dark and Mitch Sears delve into the hidden corners of a hospital, where vital roles are performed by people whose untold, compelling lives and remarkable efforts reveal the human dimension to those we turn to when we fall sick.
E9 - Keeping the Faith
Months after the winter surge, hope was still hard to come by for many of the healthcare workers in the MICU. The new normal of the unit under COVID-19 was pushing even some of the most veteran staff to their limits.
E8 - Saying Goodbye
During our visit to the MICU, the strain and struggle against an increasingly mortal virus was painfully apparent. During the Winter surge of 2020, nurses and frontline workers faced death in a volume that few had experienced before; whether accompanying relatives and patients in their final moments over video call or the long trip to the morgue.
E7 - Here with the COVID
By December of 2020, the winter surge of COVID-19 patients had finally arrived in Utah and frontline workers at University Hospital were bearing the brunt of a new wave of critically ill patients. Producers Stephen Dark and Mitch Sears visited the MICU during an early morning shift change on December 10th, to see firsthand how staff were coping with the increased pressure on both veteran caregivers and one young nurse whose first full-time nursing position since graduation was at the MICU in the teeth of the pandemic.
Keeper of the Keys
Armed with an arsenal of cleaners, a regiment of protocols, and a wealth of knowledge about microscopic enemies, the technicians at Environmental Services are tasked with ensuring the safety of each person that enters the health care facilities at University of Utah Health. These professionals are some of the hardest working individuals in healthcare as they are tasked with the fundamental, never-ending duty of sterilization and cleanliness required in medicine. Yet their efforts are some of the least understood in the hospital.
E6 - Waiting to Exhale
Inside the University Hospital Medical Intensive unit, the summer months are typically their “off-season,” with low-numbers of critical patients. It was a few months to take a breath and collect themselves before flu season begins in the fall. But the Summer of 2020 proved to be painfully different. This summer the unit found itself dealing with many more severely sick patients than they were used to treating during the season.
E5 - Keepers of Hope
An ambulance pulled up to University of Utah Hospital, carrying a man experiencing severe pains in his chest and shortness of breath. The 42-year-old veteran had felt fine a few days prior - a little headache and a sore throat - only to fall into a state of fever, chills, and hypoxia. He had been put on a ventilator but was not getting any better. If the medical professionals at the hospital couldn’t help his body get the oxygen it so desperately needed, he would soon suffocate. It was time to call in reinforcements and try some extreme measures to save his life. It was time to call in the specialists in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit.
E4 - The Last Resort
By April, the governor’s stay-at-home directive seemed to be working. New COVID-19 positive cases appeared to be leveling off. But the new rules aimed at keeping everyone safe had also led to tens of thousands of Utahns losing their jobs. The MICU staff anxiously watched TV news stories about large groups of unmasked, undistanced protestors demanding the state re-open for business. Meanwhile, as one extremely sick MICU patient with COVID-19 became eligible for what was “the last resort” technology offered, staff wondered what would happen if the public stopped observing the very measures put in place to keep them safe, and whether some of those very protestors would soon be needing their care.
E3 - Isolation Protocol
For the citizens of Salt Lake City, by the first weeks of March 2020, nerves were already shredded. COVID-19 positive cases were rising. The governor called for a state of emergency and the city began to shut down. They had spent weeks picking through barren shelves at the grocery stores trying to get their hands on basic necessities. And then, on March 18, the largest earthquake in centuries hit the city. For the medical professionals in our story facing all of this adversity too, they still had a job to do. One that was proving more and more difficult by the day as the severity of the illness in some patients only grew worse.
E2 - Echoes of the Past
COVID-19 was far from the world’s first go-around with a pandemic. In 2009, H1N1 claimed hundreds of thousands of lives worldwide. For nurses at the MICU who had cared for patients back then, COVID-19 at times was a haunting replay of the painfully familiar fight to treat patients struggling to breathe. As the first COVID patients came in, MICU staff faced ever-changing protocols and the unnerving realization that this virus was even more dangerous than anything they had faced before.