One Year Later, Elko Nurse Looks Back on New York Experience, Backlash
Article From https://elkodaily.com
The 23-minute video was filmed on May 4 by Nicole Sirotek at an unidentified hospital. While she believed she was blowing the whistle on medical negligence and mismanagement, a year later Sirotek finds it difficult to see how her actions benefited anyone.
“Nothing good has come from that video,” she said. Since returning home, Sirotek has endured more downs than ups. Most of her friends and colleagues in the local medical community turned their back on her and publicly discredited her on social media.
When the pandemic began, Sirotek said she followed all the rules to keep her and her family safe from the virus. She masked up, sanitized her groceries and restricted visitors to her home.
She was assigned to the front lines, working on the intensive care unit floor of a busy hospital in a borough heavily populated with minorities. For legal reasons, Sirotek declined to name the two hospitals she worked at during her stay.
On the way to New York, the lead nurse briefed the volunteers on what to expect when they arrived, but Sirotek was already familiar with virus outbreak protocols and wore a 3M respirator mask as she traveled.
“As long as you have gloves, eye protection and a respirator mask, you’re fine,” Sirotek said.
Upon arriving, Sirotek said her first 48 hours were “chaos, because people were dying so fast.” She said she was also was told that all patients had an automatic Do Not Resuscitate order, which didn’t seem right to her. “That’s not how it works.”
As time went on Sirotek said she witnessed multiple deaths that she believed were due to poor care, not Covid-19.
“How could they just let a new grad walk in there?” Sirotek asked. “They let anybody walk in there because they thought a nurse is a nurse.”
Nurses with less experience could have been paired up with ICU-skilled nurses to clean and provide one-on-one patient care such as bathing and repositioning and range of motion, she said.
The CDC reported the New York City death toll between March 11 and May 2 was approximately 20,000.
In an order issued March 18, 2020, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo allowed nurses from other states to work there without a New York license. State lawmakers also approved “blanket protections against civil and criminal liability for frontline workers as well as hospital executives” as the virus raged across New York, according to a report in the Daily News.
The hospitals and staff were in basic survival mode, Sirotek said. Trash bins filled up and catheter bags overflowed in patients’ rooms because there was no one available to clean the rooms.
She saw everyone on the ICU floors simply trying to get through the overload of patients, and hopefully, send them home.
“They’re just trying to adapt and survive as fast as they can,” she said in her video. ”If you can get them even discharged, that is an act of God.”
Respiratory therapists were overseeing ventilators for as many as 200 patients, she said.
She said she was assigned patients who had died before she entered the room.
Instead, she said she was ordered to administer a medication not approved by the FDA but under clinical trial.
She refused, which nurses have a right to do under the Code for Ethical Conduct for Nurses.
With no other options, Sirotek decided to record her video on May 4 and post it for the world to see.
“I am literally telling you that they’re murdering these people and nobody will listen to me,” she pleads to viewers.
Once the video was posted, Sirotek thought there was a chance it would save her patient. “People would share it, the authorities would come busting in the doors, saying ‘What’s going on here? What’s happening to these people? You’re harming them, don’t do that anymore. We’re here to make sure you don’t kill these people.’ That’s how ignorant I was.”
“To see the fact that literally everyone turned against me — but I think what hurt me most when I got home was to see all of my ‘friends’ – I’ll do that in air quotes – said about me. My 10 years as a nurse, all my education, credentials, experience, doing codes with people, being in the trenches with people, nothing mattered anymore.”
Sirotek’s video has been posted on YouTube with 1.2 million views, and she estimates that it has been viewed across other social media platforms more than that. She pointed out that those who worked alongside her in those ICUs at the New York hospitals have not come forward to dispute her claims.