When Wichita State University alumna Krista Giggy leans over a COVID-19 patient to insert an intubation tube, she believes destiny led her there.
“It’s been a fortuitous track that brought me here, but I have no regrets,” said Krista, a certified registered nurse anesthetist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H.
As with most health care workers, there have been dramatic changes in Giggy’s professional world.
“I’m a nurse anesthetist, and I typically work in the operating room,” she said. “But I joined the airway team at my hospital. It’s an all-volunteer emergency team for when a patient needs a breathing tube or to be resuscitated.”
Giggy, a 2004 Wichita State University graduate, is one of a few professionals on the team who go into the room to insert a breathing tube, IV lines or monitoring lines.
“The idea is to have as few staff in the room as possible getting exposed. When there’s a high-exposure procedure like inserting a tube, there’s an increased risk of exposure,” Giggly said.
Dartmouth-Hitchcock currently averages about eight to 12 COVID-19 patients at a time – some in the intensive care unit and some in standard care rooms, she said. The hospital has a dedicated unit solely for COVID-19 patients or those suspected of being infected by the virus.
“It hasn’t been quite as bad as anticipated, but it’s expected to get worse before it gets better.”
Depending on the procedure, Dartmouth-Hitchcock has implemented policies and procedures to protect its staff, including personal protective equipment.
“We have N95 masks to wear in the OR for any staff that’s within 6 feet of a patient,” Giggy said.
The staff also wears reusable respirator masks with rubber filters on the side, as well as powered-air purifying respirators, which have purified air running through a HEPA filter and a clear mask to cover the health care provider’s face from splatter.
“It’s not quite a Hazmat suit, but it’s as close as you can get,” she said.
Giggy’s path to Dartmouth started when she was a student at Wichita State in the early 2000s.
“It really didn’t occur to me to be a nurse initially, but now I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
In 2004, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.