“Support staff must sometimes rewear contaminated gear and don’t always feel comfortable advocating for themselves.”
“Most evenings on her drive to the hospital, Gisella Thomas receives calls from her six children. They call from Las Vegas, Bakersfield, and the cornfields of Nebraska. They ask what she’s seeing at work. They want to know if she’s going to be okay.
“As a respiratory therapist at the Desert Regional Medical Center outside of Los Angeles, Thomas, 72, is responsible for assisting to intubate patients diagnosed with Covid-19. Intubating requires her to lean over and thread a tube down the patient’s throat to ensure oxygen flows to their lungs. Her face is inches from their mouth. If the patient coughs, infected droplets will splatter her protective face shield. Her job is among the most dangerous in the hospital.
“After caring for up to 15 Covid-19 patients during her overnight shift, Thomas drives home just after sunrise and returns calls from her worried children. While she is old enough to retire, she says she cannot afford to. Three of her six children are unemployed. Two more rely upon her health insurance.
“Thomas tells her children not to worry. She’s going to be okay, she says.”