By NICOLE PELLETIERE, ABC News
(IOWA CITY, Iowa) — An Iowa nurse working on the same hospital floor where her father was being treated for COVID-19 is warning others in hopes to stop the spread and heartbreak caused by the novel coronavirus.
Bridget Otto is an intensive care unit nurse at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics’ dedicated hospital for treating COVID-19 patients. Otto’s dad, Dwight Doughan, tested positive Sept. 19.
Doughan was intubated and placed on a ventilator before being flown to the hospital where his daughter works.
“I was terrified because I had been watching this at the bedsides in the ICU since March,” Otto, of Iowa City, told Good Morning America. “It was a relief having him stay at one of the top hospitals in the state so if he didn’t make it, I knew we had tried everything.”
Doughan, 69, is a father of three, husband to Conni Doughan and grandfather of four. He is a corn and soybean farmer and was getting ready for harvest when he became infected.
Otto said her father is physically active and had no prior medical issues.
“He just should not have be the person who got as sick as he did,” she added. “It shows that this virus does not discriminate.”
Otto said her “brilliant” coworkers have kept her up-to-date on her father’s status and that she knows they’re providing him top-notch care.
“It would’ve been a conflict of interest, so I mentally had to keep a distance and take patients on the opposite side of the unit,” she said. “I wanted to still be able to do my job.”
While on the ventilator, Doughan was sedated for weeks to minimize the traumatic experience, Otto said. He’s now improving, and his tracheostomy tube was recently removed.
On Nov. 10, Otto took to Facebook and shared a public PSA on what it’s like to have a loved one fight the virus.
“I try to remind myself that the general public cannot grasp how truly terrible it is, because they don’t see it with their own eyes,” she wrote. “For some reason mask wearing and caring about the health of others has been politicized. But when it comes down to it, that’s selfish. If you cannot wear a mask in public and avoid large gatherings, it’s a selfish choice.”
Otto’s post went on: “I have watched countless family members grieve the loss of loved ones due to this terrible virus. I have taken those family members’ bodies to the morgue because of this virus. It is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in my 7 years in critical care. This was almost us as a family. We are so truly lucky we still have my dad…”
“My experience is very personal, [but] even if it helps inspire one person to wear a mask or change their social habits … the holidays are coming up and for big reasons it’s looming over our heads as health care workers,” she continued. “Are people going to listen to us or are we going to suffer in a few weeks? We cant just depend on a vaccine to come out and make this all go away. The hospitals are full. We need to be proactive and not reactive right now. There’s a lot of misinformation.”
Doughan is currently recovering at an acute rehab facility where his other daughter works. He’s looking forward to getting back to his grandfather duties, including his youngest, Graham, who is 6 months.
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