POTSDAM, N.Y. (WWNY) - A north country nurse who spent the last year treating pandemic patients says she hates COVID-19.
“I can gladly say that,” Renee Dashnaw, a nurse at Canton-Potsdam Hospital, told 7 News.
Dashnaw has reason to feel the way she does. She’s been up close as patients have struggled with the virus, encouraging them, telling them “we’re gonna take it one day at a time.
“One day at a time we’ll get you through this.”
“I find that keeping their will up, their will power, trying to do that is my main goal,” she said during an interview in mid-February, when COVID deaths were still a daily occurrence in St. Lawrence County. Since then, the pace of death and sickness in the north country has eased somewhat.
COVID changed Dashnaw’s daily routine, even as it changed her life.
She has a pair of shoes she only wears on the COVID unit. She brings a change of clothes to work so she has something to go home in that has not been exposed to COVID.
“You kind of have to prep to come in here. Like, I get my meals prepped before I come in, make sure I just have anything I could possibly need when I’m in here,” she said.
She says she has state of the art protective gear to wear, and “I feel fully capable of taking care of my patients.”
When the pandemic began, she found herself afraid.
“In the beginning was just fear. I mean, truly, I would go out of my house once a week because of just the fear of not knowing who has it, who doesn’t have it,” she said.
“My kids would say to me, ‘Hey mom, were you on the unit?’ or whatever, dealing with that, so they would stay away from me. And that’s, like, I’m a hugger, I’m someone who needs that closeness to my family and stuff, so that was very hard.”
As scientists have learned more about COVID, the fear has eased, though Dashnaw is still very cautious.
And even as she has seen patients recover and go home, she has seen too much death.
“Just knowing that you’re the last people that they see...it’s just hard.”
So she is at a loss to understand people who still won’t take basic precautions, like masking or observing social distancing.
“It’s beyond frustrating as a person in the health field, to go out and - any of them - Walmart, anywhere, and you still just see people not wearing masks. I don’t understand it. There are clear signs, clear rules and regulations,” she said.
Still, Dashnaw says is an optimist at this point.
“You just have to look on the bright side of things. You really have to try and stay positive because it will bring you down if you dwell on the severity of it.”