An ICU nurse working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic broke down in tears while sharing her heartache at seeing so many of her patients die.
D’neil Schmall, a 35-year-old ER ICU nurse, moved to New York, the global epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, on March 30th in order to help fight the deadly illness, and has since been working at the temporary Central Park hospital on a rapid response team that is dedicated to treating COVID-19 patients.
And in a gut-wrenching video, D’neil opened up about the devastating reality of her job, sobbing uncontrollably as she admitted she is ‘tired’ of walking into a room to find her patient has died.
Heartbreaking: New York ICU nurse D’neil Schmall sobbed uncontrollably as she opened up about the horrifying realities of battling coronavirus on the frontlines
Speaking out: The 35-year-old only move to New York on March 30th in order to help in the fight against the deadly illness
‘I just feel there is so much anyone can take,’ she says, while wiping away her tears.
‘I’m tired of walking into rooms, and your patients are dead. You just walk into a room, and there’s a dead body there. I’m tired of calling families and telling them that news.’
D’neil, who explained at the start of the video that she had just worked her ‘worst day’ yet, also expressed her heartache over the number of her fellow nurses who have lost their lives while fighting COVID-19, paying tribute to her ‘sisters and brothers’ who died while taking care of others.
The former bodybuilder went on to beg for more compassion and understanding from the public, admitting that she feels as though so many people assume medical staff are ‘immune’ to both the illness – and the heartache that they have to face each and every day.
‘I cried the whole way home, I mean the driver was like, “Ma’am are you okay?”‘ D’neil shared. ‘I don’t think people understand how stressful this job is. I was trained for anything in the world but this is so stressful.
‘Everyone is trying hard, everyone is trying so hard. But we got so much to do. We are humans too.
Tragedy: She said in the Facebook video that she is ‘tired’ of walking into a patient room, only to find that the person has passed away
Painful: D’neil is also the person who has had to call patients’ families to share the heartbreaking news that they have passed away
Speaking out: She begged members of the public to show more compassion and understanding towards healthcare workers
‘If you have ever felt any time would be appropriate to have compassion for each other, right now is the time when we should all have compassion for each other, and try to at least acknowledge what the other person is going through. I just have so much sadness.’
D’neil confessed that she is dealing with much of her stress and upset alone, explaining that she doesn’t feel she can call her mother or her sister, because she doesn’t want to worry them or upset them, adding: ‘[My mom] never wanted me to come [to New York].’
Fighter: D’neil, a former bodybuilder, trained at UCLA
‘I have friends that are nurses and I’m pretty sure that they understand but they are going through the same thing,’ she said. ‘So the end result is you end up crying in your hotel room. Or in the bathroom. There is no one to talk to.’
D’neil also offered a warning to hospitals about the mental health of their workers, urging them to consider bringing in counselors for medical staff to speak to about all that they are dealing with.
‘Everyone is really concerned about the patients and I understand, I completely understand, but if your staff is not doing well, then who is going to take care of your patients?’ she said.
The RN then tried to explain the Herculean task that she and her fellow nurses are expected to overcome, revealing that she has 14 patient assignments every day – a number that she says is impossible to deal with.
‘Some of them, bless their souls, can’t do anything for themselves,’ she explains. ‘How can I take care of 14 people when I have one tech and they have 30 patients. It’s so bad here you guys.’
Location: D’neil is currently volunteering at the temporary tent hospital (pictured) that has been set up in Central Park – as well as working a 60-hour week at another location
Shocking: She detailed the horrific toll that the pandemic is having on healthcare workers, including those at the tent hospital, and urged medical facilities to give nurses counselling
D’neil hopes that her video – which she posted without any editing – helps people to understand the truly devastating reality of the fight against COVID-19, and the toll that it is taking on so many healthcare workers.
‘The sad part is, I truly feel like nobody cares… nobody cares about how we feel, because this is our job, this is what you signed up for, right?’ she admitted.
‘I wish everyone the best of luck. I think we can all make through this if we stick together.’
Posting a caption to the video she offered more information about her day-to-day schedule, detailing the grueling hours that many healthcare workers are currently dealing with.
‘After 4-5hrs sleep, we’re walking 8-11 miles in a 13-15hrs shift. 5–7 days a week. Only 2 water breaks. The majority of our PPE is made out of plastic – [it’s] like wearing a sweat suit all day. Assignments of 10-16 patients per nurse.’
She said the video was completely unedited and posted after the worst shift that she had ever had and that posting it had made her feel a lot better saying: ‘Venting was actually cathartic for me.’
She added: ‘I only posted it because I feel like people should know what we’re going through here. I love my job I LOVE what I do! I’m not LEAVING! But that doesn’t mean front liners aren’t human and won’t be emotions about this experience as well.’
New York, where D’neil – who trained at UCLA – is currently working, has become the global epicenter for the coronavirus outbreak, with more than 159,000 confirmed cases in the state, and more than 7,000 deaths.
The US now has more than 469,000 cases.
The candid video sparked an outpouring of emotion from commenters, many of whom applauded D’neil’s bravery and strength.
‘D’Neil, I’m so sorry that you are experiencing this horror, but as a fellow nurse that has worked with you… You are amazing!’ one person wrote.
Another added: ‘D’neil… I wish I could give you a hug and tell you how much I admire you. You are an amazing human and you are dealing with the worst of the worst. I am so thankful for people like you, who are there and who are capable.
‘Thank you for sharing… we all need reminders of what strength looks like. What vulnerability looks like. What compassion AND unity look like. These are ALL in your message.’
‘God bless you and all the people on the front lines with strength,’ one person wrote.
‘We all love and appreciate what you do. I wish I could comfort you and people with you more. I can send you words of hope. All of us are with you. God bless you and all fighting the battle for us!’
One Facebook user then commented: ‘Dear D’Neil, We do care and I am so sorry. It’s horrible. I so clearly remember when we met on this train in Denmark that you exuded such incredible kindness. I am sure that stands true today as well. You D’neil are SO KIND..so STRONG and SO LOVED.’