At first, patient care assistant Anika Bennett ’19 (CAHNR) was scared when she was told she would be helping COVID patients at Connecticut Children’s in Hartford.
“Initially, I was nervous because, at the time, there was just so little known about the virus compared to what we know now,” said Bennett. “But I just feel confident in the hospital’s guidelines and procedures. They give us step-by-step directions for what we need to do, so I never go in there feeling unprepared.”
The main difference, she explained, is that she wears extra layers of personal protection— goggles, N95 mask, and hairnet—when she enters a COVID-19 room. Otherwise, her approach is pretty much the same. She takes patients’ vitals, helps them get up and walk around, and helps them wash up.
Fortunately, there have only been a handful of patients from babies to 17-year-olds who have tested positive for COVID. Unlike adult COVID-19 patients, these young patients are permitted to have a parent visit them.
“It’s a very rewarding experience to provide comfort to patients and their families as we face and tackle the unknown,” she said. “It’s a learning process for us. Hopefully, the situation can help us be better prepared if a worst-case scenario like this were to happen again in a few years.”
Bennett, of Hartford, majored in allied health sciences and graduated last year. Now that she has been in the field, she has decided she wants to become a nurse.
“I really admire the work that the nurses do, honestly,” she said. “I admire the doctors and the PCAs too, of course. It’s all about teamwork. But it just made me appreciate the work of nurses more, seeing it firsthand.”