SPOKANE, Wash. — Clint Wallace, an ICU nurse at Sacred Heart, spoke at a press conference with Governor Jay Inslee Sunday and pleaded with the public to follow the new COVID-19 restrictions.
Indoor dining at restaurants and bars is closed, and in-store retail is limited to 25% capacity, including grocery stores. Indoor gatherings with those outside your household are also prohibited and outdoor gatherings are limited to five people, according to the new guidelines.
"I'm just here to speak on behalf of a lot of the nurses and healthcare workers throughout this state," Wallace said. "We've been in this pandemic for eight months now, and we are exhausted. We are tired."
Wallace explained that hospital preparedness is about more than having available beds and ventilators for patients.
"It's about having adequate staffing, and staff that have the energy to take care of these patients," Wallace said.
Spokane hospitals are hovering near 60 to 65% capacity, according to a release from the Spokane Regional Health District. The health district called the new measures "critical" in making sure hospital operations can continue as normal.
COVID-19 patients require more care than the average ICU patient, Wallace said. They require continuous monitoring, and nurses have to change their personal protective equipment when entering and leaving their rooms.
"We're close as a whole in healthcare workers to being burnt out," Wallace said. "And we are pleading with the community of Washington and throughout the world to follow the advice of our healthcare experts."
Wallace has been an ICU nurse at Sacred Heart for nearly 20 years and he said the ICU is as busy as he's ever seen it.
"It's been difficult for staff for so long, and we have used our emotions, our physical abilities, our vacation time for the last eight months," Wallace said. "And we are needing the community to pull together, we're needing everyone to put aside their political and financial motives and follow the directions of our healthcare experts. We need help. We need everybody's help."