Healthcare personnel from Mayo Clinics in La Crosse and Rochester offer glimpse what it’s like working on frontlines

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – For the people who are on the frontlines of this pandemic day in and day out, what is happening is all too real.

“It’s tough to hear, it really is when someone tells you what you’re doing isn’t actually happening,” Mayo Clinic/Rochester paramedic Andrew Torres said.

“When we intubate them, we know that as the caretakers for a lot of these patients, we’re the last people that they talk to,” Mayo Clinic/Rochester clinical care nurse Amy Spitzner said.

“That is definitely something that we take home with us, and it wears on us emotionally,” Mayo Clinic/Rochester respiratory therapist Desirae Cogswell said.

“It is important that people realize we see the things we see because of what can be happening in the community,” Mayo Clinic/La Crosse infectious disease nurse Traci Kokke said.

Part of Kokke’s job is working in the COVID testing site tent in La Crosse.

“It’s been definitely an anxiety-ridden place to be,” Kokke said.

She says patients with underlying conditions who get tested in the tent feel the most stressed.

“Do it, and take care of whatever questions they have, and be honest with them,” Kokke said.

Some patients she’s worked with were very sick.

“Some of them have died,” Kokke said. “Some of them have been on ventilators. Some have done really well and gotten to go home.”

Kokke says it’s frustrating and disheartening when people don’t listen to the guidelines.

“I know people are still going to social outings, and doing what they want, where they want, what they want,” Kokke said.

And despite how frustrating and difficult these past nine months have been, Kokke remains humble.

“I’m also very proud of the work that I do,” Kokke said.

Kokke says she usually works six days a week and enjoys the commute to work so that she can relax a little bit.

With people returning from Thanksgiving , she expects more people to get tested in the COVID tent than last week.