It all started with a photo. Jennifer Tinghitella, an ICU patient care coordinator at Community North Hospital, posted a photo of herself on Facebook and LinkedIn after a long night treating patients with COVID-19. In Tinghitella’s case, a picture truly is worth 1,000 words.
“This is exhaustion,” the post read. “This is on the verge of tears. COVID-19 casualties are getting younger and younger. If you’re one of the delusional ones who think that you’re not old enough for COVID-19 to claim your life, find a nurse, doctor, EVS worker, RT who works in the thick of it. Ask them about their perspective. We have story after story of people who, while gasping for breath, are asking for the vaccine. Do your part to end this horrific pandemic that is crippling our hospitals.”
Tinghitella says she barely remembers posting the photo after a long shift around 5 a.m.
“My team and I just finished an extremely long shift,” Tinghitella said. “Night after night we had new patients coming into the ER. I would be off for a day and come back to see how my patients were doing, to find out some had died.”
Tinghitella said COVID-19 is a disease unlike any other she has seen or treated before.
“It just tears apart some patients’ lungs,” she said. “There was one case where a patient on ECMO needed a chest X-ray to check progress. The image showed lungs so destroyed, you could barely see the outline of what was left.”
“We were called health care heroes in 2020, and while we will continue to do what we can to fight this virus, please listen to the science and the experts behind the vaccine.”-Jennifer Tinghitella
What was Tinghitella’s reason for the post? To urge the community to do their own research into the vaccine? To ask others to continue to wear masks? To hopefully convince people to get vaccinated? Tinghitella says, the answer is all of the above.
“I wish the public could just take a walk through the ICU to witness what could happen to them,” she said. “The fact that it is even possible to be crippled, or worse – killed – by a virus; why take the risk by not getting vaccinated?”
Tinghitella said she didn’t expect the reaction she received from the post. Many people reshared and praised her for her team’s efforts, but some accused her of pushing the vaccine agenda on behalf of her employer.
“I’m not here to promote the vaccine for anything other than wanting to save lives,” she said. “After seeing what I have seen the past 18 months, I am ready for this nightmare to be over and for patients to recover. In that moment, my team and I were on the verge of collapsing and wondering how much longer we can physically and emotionally handle this.”
Tinghitella says this is an unforgiving virus that will continue to ravage through the community until more people are vaccinated.
“We were called health care heroes in 2020, and while we will continue to do what we can to fight this virus, please listen to the science and the experts behind the vaccine.”