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Year of the Nurse

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Year of the Nurse

A 2020 Covid-19 Pandemic Memoir

Caskara Press,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

An American nurse gives a deeply unsettling account of the COVID-19 crisis.

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When the World Health Organization designated 2020 the Year of the Nurse, little did nurses in the United States know they would be sent into the fight against Covid-19 like soldiers into war — only with insufficient equipment and less support. In this blunt and often angry account, Cassandra Alexander, an experienced ICU nurse, recounts fighting for people’s lives on a daily basis, while government, society and even her family undermine and discredit her efforts and those of other health professionals.


When nurse Cassandra Alexander saw a video of nurses in Italy “proning” their COVID patients, she recognized a serious situation.

On 9 March 2020, at the start of the COVID pandemic, author Cassandra Alexander, an ICU nurse in a hospital in California, watched a video of nurses in Italy “proning” their patients — turning them on their stomachs.

People with COVID have more lung tissue at the back of their lungs than at the front, so placing them on their stomachs gives them access to a greater lung surface area to aid their breathing. However, proning an intubated patient is dangerous, and nurses only perform such tasks when absolutely necessary. Such procedures require nurses to sedate and often paralyze patients, which leaves patients helpless, in need of constant checking and vulnerable to pressure sores unless someone moves them regularly. An intubated patient on his or her stomach demands one-on-one nursing care.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) shortages meant nurses had to source their own masks.

When the first suspected COVID cases came to Alexander’s hospital in March, no rapid tests existed...

About the Author

Registered nurse Cassandra Alexander has experience in burn, critical care transport and ICU.

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