‘It feels like a war’: UF Health North nursing manager describes the fight against COVID-19

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Nurses say this second COVID-19 wave may be the toughest battle yet.

“They are tired. They are nothing but tired,” says Amy Doyle, the nursing manager at UF Health North.

COVID-19 is once again surging in Jacksonville area hospitals, where the case numbers are skyrocketing.

“A week ago we were at one or two, and almost overnight it doubled and then tripled,” says Caitlin Tompson, one of the staff nurses.

Infectious disease specialists at UF Health North say 99% of the cases they are seeing are the more aggressive, infectious delta variant. More and more patients are being transferred from progressive care to the ICU. Nurses say many are wishing they had gotten vaccinated.

“The majority of our patients are unvaccinated. the patients now are saying, ‘man I wish I would’ve gotten vaccinated. I didn’t really think I would be this sick.’”

The delta variant is impacting different groups. Many patients are younger. The average daily mortality rate at UF Health North has fallen from 69 to 59, about 2 deaths a day.

The numbers have a massive impact on the staff.

“It hurts to see patients die.”

Since the end of June, 20 patients have died of COVID-19 — all of them unvaccinated.

As one nurse puts it, this disease is a battle.

“It feels like a war. we are in a war zone that doesn’t feel like it’s ever going to end.”