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Nurses Go Beyond the Caregiving

In the face of a disease that requires physical separation from other human beings, these care providers have extended their role, taking on tasks usually relegated to others and sitting in as family and friends to the ill. And the Penn Nursing community is doing all it can to support their colleagues on the frontlines.

The stories have become all too common though no less heart-wrenching: A patient with COVID-19 takes a quick turn for the worse yet can see no one outside the hospital. The nurse who has been treating him facilitates video calls with his family and holds his hand as he progressively gets sicker. Eventually the patient joins the more than 78,000 people in the United States who have perished from this novel coronavirus, the nurse sitting in for family who otherwise would have been by his side. 

As the medical community and public health officials have learned more about how COVID-19 spreads, hospitals across the country, including those in the University of Pennsylvania Health System, have dropped the numbers of visitors permitted to almost zero except under special circumstances. Nurses have found themselves in a new role, as substitute loved one to the ill.  

This is an excerpt from a story that was originally published on Penn Today. It was written by Science News Officer Michele Berger. Click here to read the entire version.