Helping Patients during the time of COVID-19
Meaghan Lawler is a vascular access specialist and Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) working at Honor Health at John C. Lincoln Medical Center. “I place vascular access devices (VADs) such as Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter (“PICC” lines), arterial lines, midlines, and IVs. I also maintain all in-house devices and devices used to monitor hemodynamics in post-cardiac surgery patients, and patients with suspected poor cardiac function.”
Meaghan also works Critical Care to manage patients on ventilators and provide other pulmonary therapies. “I work in the emergency department, which is also a Level 1 trauma center,” she explains. “We assist with intubation, ventilator management, and maintaining the airway. We use many different therapies and devices to optimize lung function.”
Meaghan graduated from the Carrington College Respiratory Care program in 2016; shortly after, she was credentialed as a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT). Prior to attending the Carrington College Phoenix campus, she was an Emergency Room Technician. “I had thought about going into nursing,” Meaghan explains, “But I found the cardiopulmonary system so fascinating, I went that route.” She felt very well-prepared for her clinical experience. “I think my having a medical background helped as well,” she says, “but Carrington’s course work is well laid out for anyone just getting into medical or pursuing a career change in the field.”
A typical day at work depends on whether Meaghan is working with vascular or respiratory patients. “Respiratory is more much organized, with scheduled therapies and rounds,” she explains. “Vascular is less organized because we’re on an as-needed basis, whereas with respiratory we have a good idea of how our shift is going to go.”
Since the COVID-19 crisis impact, it’s safe to say there is no “typical” workday. “COVID has been kind of scary,” she says. “Trying to figure out the right protective equipment to wear and how to treat the unknown is…frightening. I wish we knew how to treat this virus, but the teamwork that has been displayed has been outstanding and I am so proud of not only our department but nursing, techs, and everyone involved for facing this thing head on,” she says.
“We have units on lockdown…but everyone is still keeping their heads held high. Dealing with extremely critical patients is hard but dealing with the unknown is just downright scary. We feel helpless, in a sense, but we are doing everything we know how. We’ve cared for a few people hit pretty hard by the virus so far—but I’m happy to say we have recovered some of our sickest patients by simply doing what we are trained to do.”
During such an uncertain and scary time for people working in the medical field, Meaghan holds fast to the hope that after the global health crisis is over, the knowledge gained from it will prove valuable. She is grateful for the efforts her employer–Honor Health–has made to keep its employees safe by trying to ensure they all have appropriate equipment and protection.
“I am scared for what may come toward us as I watch other cities struggling, but we are all brainstorming and supporting one another through this,” Meaghan says. “My hands are cracked and bleeding from so much hand washing, my face is tender from the tight masks, and my soul is heavy. But I am thankful for the people I work with; they definitely make things better.”