This article was written by Alyce Bradshaw who is a sophomore in the journalism class at U32. It’s about Dennis Sol Cruz, who is a nurse in Vermont. This was written in appreciation for healthcare workers and acknowledging how hard their work has been during COVID.
“There is no real typical day,” he said, “ because everything changes so fast.” Dennis Sol Cruz does rounds and bathes his patients in the morning. In the afternoon, he monitors and treats them. An expected day will include patients’ hearts stopping, and nurses, like Dennis, inserting chest tubes.”
Dennis Sol Cruz is a staff nurse in the intensive care unit at the Central Vermont Medical Center (CVMC). He was the first nurse at CVMC to care for a COVID patient full time.
Previously, Dennis worked as a flight attendant in the Philippines. After 12 years, he moved to Singapore and studied cutlery arts. From there he relocated to Boston to become a registered nurse. He worked as a telemetry nurse for 3 years; someone that monitors heart rhythms. He later worked as an ICU nurse in a trauma center. After a few years, Dennis moved to Vermont, and has worked in the ICU at CVMC for 19 years.
In the beginning of the pandemic, there was a worldwide shortage of masks. At CVMC, the staff were forced to wear the same N95 mask until it broke. Now, there is an ample supply of masks, so medical professionals are able to change their mask as frequently as needed.
When Dennis is treating a patient diagnosed with COVID, he wears a gown, gloves, faceshield, and a specific mask designed for being in contact with COVID. If he is treating someone without COVID he wears a normal mask, gown, and gloves.
At CVMC there are 7 rooms allotted for COVID patients in the ICU. As of late September, the most COVID patients they have had at once is 5. A few months ago, CVMC decreased the amount of rooms allocated for COVID patients. The Delta surge has made them increase back to 7 rooms.
In Boston, Dennis treated people with tuberculosis (TB). A bacterial infection spread by water droplets in the air; much like COVID-19. The pandemic scared him, but he said to himself, “treat it like you are treating TB ”. This phrase got him through the day.
During the beginning of COVID, Dennis, being a divorced dad, was unable to see his teenage sons for two months. Fearful of spreading infection, Dennis’s sons stayed with his ex-wife.
He has been dealing with the pandemic for a year and half, and his life has changed drastically. One effect was losing his friend to COVID. “That’s when you go ‘oh my god that’s real.’” he said. He encourages people to get vaccinated so fewer people have to go through what he endured.
Dennis wants everyone to understand that getting the vaccine doesn’t mean immunity to COVID; but it does mean you are less likely to get sick. 90% of patients he sees in the ICU aren’t vaccinated. When patients are vaccinated the recovery time is significantly faster. “As a medical professional, you have to educate people that COVID is real,” he said. “The vaccine works, and science is real.”