TAMPA, Fla. — Crossing the doorway into AdventHealth Carrollwood's COVID ICU is like stepping into a never ending, slow-motion nightmare.

The stark reality of COVID inside this unit is much different outside, where life seems like it is normal.

It's not for those severely sick with COVID and their families.

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"We have quite a few, a couple, probably three of them, aren't doing too well."

Wei-Chun Cote is an ICU Nurse, treating some of the most critically ill.

"Help them buy another day, or another hour," said Cote.  "And if everything is exhausted, we can help them with a peaceful ending."

Even those peaceful endings start with a lot of hope and even more fight.

Wei-Chun Cote is an ICU Nurse, treating some of the most critically ill. (Spectrum News image)

On this day, Cote starts her day by suiting up.

Putting on a gown, N95 and surgical mask, face shield, gloves and surgical boots, she walks to the packed COVID unit to a patient in need of a procedure.

Doctors and nurses know the risks of their job, even if the odds of survival are low for some of their patients.

"We are the ones that stand between the disease and the death of the patient, and we are doing the best we can," Cote said.

No nurse is immune to losing a patient, but since the pandemic began the loss for healthcare workers has taken an emotional toll.

Physically and mentally drained, they worry the long Labor Day weekend could lead to another spike in cases similar to previous holidays.

At least three died in AdventHealth Carrollwood's hospital this past weekend.

New patients now fill those beds as doctors and nurses hope for better outcomes.

AdventHealth understands the critical need for nurse staffing during this time and we are taking aggressive steps to recruit the best people possible to care for our patients. AdventHealth is working to provide RN recruitment incentives that are competitive and will help attract top talent. To help retain 

members we have implemented several recruitment incentive updates across the West Florida Division: 

·         Critical Shift Bonus

·         Seasonal Contract with Completion Bonus

·         $15,000 sign-on bonus for Cath Lab and Respiratory Therapist full-time positions

·         $35,000 bonus for Registered Nurses in the ICU, PCU, Medical/Surgical, Emergency Room and Operating Room full-time positions

·         Up to $5,000 sign-on for newly licensed Registered Nurses