COVID-19 frontlines: Priest urges Nebraskans to listen to the science

Published: Nov. 18, 2020 at 6:13 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - With hospitals overwhelmed, and the COVID-19 pandemic showing no signs of slowing down, more and more unique perspectives are coming from the frontlines.

“This is a horrible way to die,” said Father Keith Winton, a priest at All Saints Episcopal Church. “Dying because you cannot breathe is not the way you want to go.”

Winton is in the midst of it all at Nebraska Medicine, offering support in times of struggle and times of death.

“It’s hard, and tragic, and sad to see people spending their last days and hours mostly alone,” he said.

Often feeling sadness, and as he describes: “Complete frustration and disbelief, that there are still seem to be so many people that aren’t taking this seriously because they don’t believe it will affect them or don’t believe it’s as bad as it is.”

He said this isn’t about what you believe.

It’s so simple to put on a mask, keep some distance, and stop gathering, he said. When people don’t, he said, it’s disheartening.

“There just aren’t enough words for those of us on the front lines to describe what seeing that makes us feel like,” said Fr. Winton, noting he’s doing all he can to keep up. “Sometimes I’ll be with one patient and they’ll be two or three pages waiting on my pager, and an accident may come into the emergency department, and I just have to weight which is more urgent.”

He points to the nurses, who are also making tough calls; they’re exhausted, he said, but still going.

“It’s heart-wrenching to think of 10 months into this pandemic that this is the state we’re in,” said Fr. Winton, adding it didn’t need to happen this way.

And as cases continue to soar, he’s worried about what’s still to come.

“We’re already this close to being full,” he said. “So, I’m scared actually for what happens three weeks from now.”

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