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'There is not a light at end of the tunnel' | Nurse shares details of daily horrors, stress during huge surge in COVID-19 cases

Tuesday, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare system set new record high of COVID patients for second straight day.

GERMANTOWN, Tennessee — "There is not a light at the end of the tunnel right now, we just have to get our community vaccinated," Methodist Germantown Administrative Director of Nursing Kristen Bell said.

For Bell, it's the sounds and the words from the COVID-19 patients she treats that haunt her at night. 

"What I've heard over and over again is 'I'm so afraid, I'm so afraid' and it's because they are sick, they are hungry for air and they are alone and it's just breaks your heart," Bell added.

Moments like those are why Bell and the nursing team she leads are stressed and strained like no other time of the pandemic.

"It has been just a punch in the gut," Bell said.

On top of that, there's fewer available nurses, treating a record high number of patients who are staying and struggling longer. 

"This is a long haul thing, most people aren't staying for three or four days, a lot of the folks are in that hospital room for weeks," Bell said.

Then there are those who aren't so lucky, who Bell says are getting younger and dying faster.

"We've seen 20-year-olds come in and get put on a ventilator and they are not here in a week and it just blows you away," Bell said.

With just one ICU bed available across the entire Methodist hospital system as of Tuesday morning, it's increasingly more difficult to choose who gets treated when.

"There are people who need regular surgeries and regular medical care who aren't going to get it for a while because we are so full and we are at a tipping point," Bell added.