ICU nurse leaves hospital behind after difficult year due to COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 9:09 PM, Aug 07, 2021

A Valley ICU nurse is now calling a quits. She says she's been driven to leave the job she’s loved for seven years following an 18-month battle to keep people alive during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“No one, no one, no one will understand what we have seen and what we have been through,” said Paulette Rangel.

Rangel has seen too much heartbreak, too many goodbyes, and too many Arizonans losing their lives.

“People just still don’t understand how terrible of a disease is and how awful it is to die from it,” said Rangel.

Rangel says working in a Valley ICU for the past seven years has been a dream come true. She's been able to expand her expertise in medical procedures and technology; furthering her career by giving her all to saving patients.

“I felt this guilt that they really need me but at the same time I can’t bear to walk back in those doors and it’s not that I didn’t love my job because I did, I just didn’t feel right anymore,” said Rangel.

She says the pandemic brought on challenges she could have never anticipated. While already being understaffed, hospitals are now overworking employees.

Crisis care standards are pushing the risks, while her mental health waned with each day.

“They’re taking their last breath and there’s nothing we can do, it’s hard,” said Rangel. "I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety."

The pandemic is now creating an epidemic of medical professionals considering new careers. A recent national survey found a whopping 48% of ICU nurses who responded to the study are considering leaving the healthcare profession.

Rangel says she’s not surprised by the numbers at all.

“A lot of people left, from the beginning of the year to the time that I left, I want to say just in my unit alone like 20 to 25 nurses left, and that’s a lot,” said Rangel.

Rangel is now one of them. Joining a federally qualified medical group currently using mobile clinics to deliver COVID-19 vaccines. But as COVID-19 numbers go up again, her thoughts aren’t far from the patients and her coworkers continuing to battle this virus.

“I love them, I feel for them, and I wish I was there to help but ultimately I had to take care of myself and my family and my mental health,” said Rangel.