Nurse Roni Kasmal looks over COVID-19 patient in hospital bed with full personal protective equipment on

I WAS THERE: As Cases Rise Again, COVID-19 Nurse Raises Alarm Bells From Inside the ICU

Hi, my name is Roni and I'm a nurse from Los Angeles. I've been working in plastic surgery in Beverly Hills for the past 20 years. But during the shutdown, I took a position as an E.R. and ICU nurse in Sun Valley  

And it's a little bit bizarre to go between both worlds. It's definitely an example of the have and the have nots.  

My first week at the hospital. We had just opened the COVID unit. We obviously didn't have the right equipment in the rooms people were scared. We didn't know what we were dealing with. It was rough. It was rough.  

We’ve actually had several cases where family members were both admitted into the covered unit and into the covered units. We had a husband and wife. And unfortunately, the husband passed away and the wife was on the upstairs floor. And we had to go inform her that her husband had just passed. They really wanted us to sort of go in, do our care and get out. But obviously, that was one of those nights where we just had to sort of ignore that rule and sit with her. 

I’ve already had COVID. I contracted it at work. My family's has already had it. Because I know that I have the antibodies. I know that I have at least some short term immunity. I try to tend to spend a little bit more time in the room with patients, especially when they're just having a hard time.  

I just personally enjoy being in the room, hearing their stories, talking to them, finding out about their families.  

We definitely have our population of the older, sicker patients. And though those patients, you know, are 70, 80 years old, they have multiple health problems. Those ones, it's I don't want to say it's a death sentence, but it's really tough to recover. 

It, it's hard because as a health care worker, you see these cases, you know, you work with these people every day, you work with these people every day a lot of people will write off. Oh, it's just the elderly, which is people with preexisting conditions. So it's really hard to transmit that message to the public that says, look, you guys don't understand. We're seeing people that come in that should not be in the ICU on a ventilator. It makes no sense. 

The things that we're asking people to do. Just do things to protect not only yourself, but the people you care about. And unfortunately, what we're seeing is once people get the message, it's sometimes too late. And that's, that's the tragedy.

A Southern California nurse discusses her work inside a COVID-19 ICU and warns the coronavirus is far from over. The footage seen in this episode was filmed by the nurse and with the permission of the patient’s family.

About the Series

"I WAS THERE" is about telling a great story. This series of first-person accounts breaks current and historical events down to human scale, carefully taking the viewer behind some of Southern California’s biggest headlines.

Production team

Executive Producer: Karen Foshay 

Producers: Tori Edgar, Denise Chan & Michael Ray 

Photographers: Trevor Jackson, Karen Foshay

Editor/Graphics: Michael Ray, Andy Viner

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