Oral Interview with a healthcare provider


Title (Dublin Core)

Oral Interview with a healthcare provider
Layne Williams Oral History, 2021/03/14

Description (Dublin Core)

Layne Williams is a Physical Therapist Assistant who was working in a hospital during the pandemic. Her role shifted during the early months of the pandemic and she found herself doing any job that was needed to help with the increased numbers of patients coming into the hospital. She recalled the surreal feeling of walking into her first Covid positive patient’s room and how the mentality of healthcare providers shifted as more information came out about Covid. She also discussed the challenges of being a healthcare provider while living with her husband who is not in healthcare. Her job certainly exposed her to increased risks and those risks spilled over to impact her home life. However, her overall impression from the pandemic is that it showed what the healthcare field is capable of achieving when challenged.

Recording Date (Dublin Core)

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Event Identifier (Dublin Core)

Partner (Dublin Core)

Type (Dublin Core)

oral history

Controlled Vocabulary (Dublin Core)


Curator's Tags (Omeka Classic)

Contributor's Tags (a true folksonomy) (Friend of a Friend)

Collection (Dublin Core)

Date Submitted (Dublin Core)


Date Modified (Dublin Core)


Date Created (Dublin Core)


Interviewer (Bibliographic Ontology)

Matthew Williams

Interviewee (Bibliographic Ontology)

Layne Williams

Location (Omeka Classic)

New Jersey
United States

Format (Dublin Core)


Coverage (Dublin Core)

January 2020-March 2021

Language (Dublin Core)


Duration (Omeka Classic)


Transcription (Omeka Classic)

Interviewee Name: Layne Williams
Interviewer Name: Matthew Williams
Date of Interview: 03/14/2021
Location: Zoom
Transcriber Name: Matthew Williams

Abstract: Layne Williams is a Physical Therapist Assistant who was working in a hospital during the pandemic. Her role shifted during the early months of the pandemic and she found herself doing any job that was needed to help with the increased numbers of patients coming into the hospital. She recalled the surreal feeling of walking into her first Covid positive patient’s room and how the mentality of healthcare providers shifted as more information came out about Covid. She also discussed the challenges of being a healthcare provider while living with her husband who is not in healthcare. Her job certainly exposed her to increased risks and those risks spilled over to impact her home life. However, her overall impression from the pandemic is that it showed what the healthcare field is capable of achieving when challenged.

Matthew Williams: Okay, so the date is March 14 2021 the time is 3pm. This is Matthew Williams, I am here with Layne Williams, we're doing an oral interview for the Covid-19 Journal of the Plague Year archive. How are you doing.

Layne Williams: Good, very good.

MW: Excellent. And I want to start by getting -making sure that I have your consent to record this oral interview, and also to post the interview and the transcription of the interview to the Journal of the Plague Year archive.

LW: And you do.

MW: Thank you.

MW: So, I want to start by asking a couple of background information questions, specifically before the pandemic had began. So where do you live and what is your occupation?

LW: I'm in the northeast part of the country -Hackettstown, New Jersey. And my occupation is physical therapy assistant, in an acute care setting.

MW: And when we talk about -you know- outside of work before the pandemic what were some of the things that you like to do on your day to day basis or some of the hobbies some of the things you enjoyed before the pandemic?

LW: Gardening; going out to eat and going on vacations. Visiting with friends and family.

MW: And how about when you talk about -and I know this is a hard question to answer- but what did a normal day look like pre Covid at work?

LW: Okay, normally I would go in from eight[8:00am] to 4:30[4:30pm],and would either be seeing inpatient or outpatient. Straight through the day, with a half an hour lunch.

MW: And, I want to talk about when you first heard about -try to remember when you first heard about Covid, and what your initial reactions were to it and those early days of last year.

LW: When I first heard about it, it was probably beginning of January, and I said Oh, this is a China problem and we don't, we don't have to worry. We don't have to worry about that. We should keep an eye on it, though, but there's not going to be a problem.

MW: Do you remember how you might have heard about it in January?

LW: Probably the news. I'm sure it was the news.

MW: And, when it comes to like work professionally did you have any professional thoughts about -you know initial thoughts- when you heard about it did you think that there was any chance that you were going to start seeing patients and that it was going to affect our health care system.

LW: Not in, not in the beginning, when we first heard about it in December and January in China, I just didn't think it was going to impact this at all.

MW: And now kind of shifting into work. You know, was there any change or effect to your hours or your schedule, because of the Covid-19 pandemic?

LW: My, my what I did, and my schedule completely changed 100%. Our -because I did outpatients also in the in a hospital setting that was closed down for, probably the middle of March to probably June, so there were no outpatients at all, we saw inpatients, including Covid inpatients, every day. But because there were too many of us, because again outpatient was closed down, that our managers and hospital looked for other places, other things for us to do, because there were jobs that were never even heard of before Covid that now somebody had to fulfill. So I specifically -I'm filled the screenings and initially in the ER in the ER entrance, because that was the only entrance that was open. I did that, until probably June. All 12 hour shifts, evenings overnights 12 hours, I never did a 12 hour until then, and was all sitting in the in the lobby of the ER screening everybody that came into the hospital.

MW: Was the movement to screening from your normal position, was that a choice? Were you given a choice as to where you were going to go, and if you were was there anything that went into your specific choice?

LW: I had a little bit of a choice, because we would sign up for shifts. But if I didn't take them, I had nothing there was nothing else for me to do. That -the my managers were really good about this, and was trying to give everybody who wanted to to do this, an opportunity to make up out to make up hours, because we were short hours.

LW: So I was treating we went back and forth we treating Covid in patients treating regular patients and then manning the ER delivering for pharmacy. I did all of it, some people did not want to be exposed to Covid and they chose not to. I did everything that that was open to me any hour of the day, to make up 40 hours or plus.

MW: And so you did not have a loss of hours during the pandemic?

LW: Very, very few yes.

MW: That is good to hear, I know a lot of people..

LW: Yes, I know a lot of people were I would have been furloughed yes, so. But there were these different jobs available and I I took all of them.

MW: So, in terms of your feelings about working during a healthcare crisis, an unprecedented healthcare crisis like this. Initially, in the early stages of this, do you remember, do you recall what your feelings towards working in healthcare during that?

MW: And then, you know, and then I'm going to ask you about how it shifted, you know, throughout the year. But early on, do you remember your feelings about working in healthcare doing this?

LW: In -generally in health care. We will get through this things were thrown at us so fast and it's literally changed every hour, but we have to find a way to do this, and we have to.

LW: Keep everybody alive and, and just try to figure this out. Specifically I remember the first time that I went into a Covid unit, and it was probably end of March. And all I can say is: it was like a movie and it was absolutely surreal. Like I was in somebody else's body and I'm walking around -and it was because of what I had on and just -it was at that time it wasn't an entire floor was half the floor it was small and quiet and there were things that I’ve never seen around in the hospital. It just didn't even look like the same hospital. So that I remember, and I remember that to that to this day.

MW: What, when you think about your feelings walking in there, for your own personal safety things like this, -how did you know -How did that feel at that, at that moment for that first time that you walked into a room?

LW: Like I don't want to get this, so I listened to the nurses who were already there exactly what to do, how to put the equipment, I never had on and on, and I was very, very careful. And it changed how I -no it didn't change the way how I treated the patient- but it changed the way I kind of moved myself, but I still got them up and we walked in and I was just very aware of what I had to clean when I got out and I didn't want to make them any more sick and I certainly didn't want to make myself sick.

MW: How, in terms of the progression then across the year, where we now have more information about Covid and all of this, how is the changes occurred to your field?

LW: Okay well in general, all of us are much more relaxed. I go into it now because I’m still seeing Covid patients, well I did a week ago. I'm a little more knowledgeable. I kind of know I’m not going to like drop dead after I, you know close the door or that day or whatever. The patients are less sick they we had patients that were less sick, the second wave so that was a little bit more encouraging. So I felt less anxious than I did in the beginning.

MW: Well that's good to hear, that's excellent to hear. I want to shift a little bit towards home life, family life during the pandemic and so, how many how many individuals are living in your household currently and how many, including yourself work in healthcare?

LW: One, me.

MW: Now, working in healthcare during the pandemic, how would you say that that has affected your, your home life?

LW: A lot, we- because it's my husband and myself, we split rooms. I didn't sleep in the same room, we have an electric toothbrush that we share, we didn't do that. I had towels, there were no more towels, there was -we shared nothing. I have never cleaned a door knob as much as I did, then I literally sat six feet apart. We move furniture in the living room. It just probably until the, I want to you say June until the summer until the weather, there was absolutely no physical contact at all I can tell you that. Because I didn't, because we shouldn't have because, why do I want to get him sick.

LW: Different now - and and- different even before the vaccine, it was the got more relaxed in the summer, because I wasn't treating Covid patients. But as soon as I started treating Covid patients again in in November, and start it all back up again, but it was shorter, because then I got the first shot in the beginning of January. And then, and then knowledge, you know the contact thing wasn't with the you know they proved that it really it was it was more airborne and droplet than it was in contact. You know, I have to worry about, man it's getting it from a surface. So just pure knowledge made that easier.

MW: Did you have any post shift routines that you developed during the pandemic, to try to keep your whole household safe?

LW: Yes, I came home, as soon as I came home from the hospital, I took a shower at night every night. And I never did that, before I would shower in the morning, but I would go down stairs -and this and you're going to hear this.

LW: I did go in the House, but I went downstairs and got completely naked and put my clothes separate and then came up and took a shower immediately. I still do that now, when I’m treating Covid patients. Even, when I not I don't, I don't necessarily take a shower every day right because my skin is going to fall off right right?

MW: I had heard a very similar post routine from another interview I’ve done and, you know, immediately disgowning and taking off everything and jumping into the shower so.

LW: Yes, yeah and and so many people, yes and and just there were people and and we've heard this from the store. Especially new -because I’m close to New York City- there were people who didn't even go home, you know they were in hotels and I know two people who -they had huge garages and they slept in the garage.

MW: Were there any, you know, conversation considerations for you to do something similar, especially at the height of it in the beginning?

LW: You know I thought about it.

LW: But no, I didn't perhaps if I was treating 12 hours a day. Which, which we were not because we're not nurses. If I was in nursing, I was treating 12 hours a day, and only in the Covid unit, I actually might have thought about that. But the problem is because it went on so long, I mean, that's that's that's, expensive and our garage is not heated, so you know it got, it got easier in the -when the warmer weather, but I would have thought about that not coming home if I did with nurses. And I have friends that did not go home right.

MW: With -you had mentioned your vaccine that you had gotten the vaccine and I think you said early January so, what was that experience like, getting the vaccine, you know?

LW: It was it again, we were we were all together, I, it was the first round, I actually was very -that was available to us. I was a part of and the there were a lot of people and and from doctors and and security, and it was just we were all there and all had stories and it was good.

LW: It just felt good that we were they were we were doing this, to help everybody and then in the beginning, there were a few people that I knew, they weren't going to get it, but, but the majority of people, we just including doctors and and from every -it's good to see them that they had the confidence to do this. Also yeah and we, and we were all sat in six feet apart in chairs and you know for our 15 minutes, I had to hang around for a half an hour because they wanted to watch me a little longer, but uh yeah it was it was good.

MW: And no no problematic reactions to the vaccine?

LW: No, I was, my arm was really, really sore the first vaccine and then the second vaccine I’m very tired headache body aches, but I went to work and I was able to do that. There were a few colleagues, especially the colleagues that had had Covid they had more severe symptoms including vomiting and fever, I had neither.

MW: Wow! Well that's good to hear, so I have just two more questions for you, the first one is really you know, what -if you could- what advice would you give your pre-pandemic self? In terms of how to approach this entire pandemic experience.

LW: Yeah. It'll get better. And, I can't say that don't be afraid of it because we didn't -we were afraid of it because we didn't know what it was. I think, yeah it will get better.

MW: Well, it definitely did.

LW: Yes, it did get better.

MW: still getting better. And then you know, my final question is is there anything else that you'd like to share that I haven't asked you about today?

LW: Well, I told you about the experience, the first time, and I will probably remember that forever, the first time I I walked in, and it was like -if you've ever seen the movie Outbreak -I didn't see the other one they were all talking about, but the another movie but I forget what it was, it was -and we didn't we weren't in respirator suits but we pretty much were plastic from top to bottom. So that and, I am very proud of my management and my department and really the hospital that we go through this and we know we can pretty much do anything. And there were mistakes and because we -and we didn't make them on purpose- but but we didn't know -and to take for zero percent -to have no knowledge to, just do it, you just do it. And you have to just do it.

MW: And do you think that we're you know -how do you think we're prepared in terms of?

LW: Well, I know I know, equipment, we have to be prepared, because I do know that it's now mandated that we have that. Shame on us that we weren't, because we should have been. Because because we knew this was this could happen or I mean I kind of knew, but I mean other smart you know epidemiologists and they they knew this could happen and we were not prepared and hopefully we -I know we are prepared for for protection now because we have to be. We -they have to go in every month and show them that we have a three month supply. Now is a three month supply enough, I don't know but it's a whole lot better than we had before. So hopefully we'll go through this and through other studies we will learn and actually do and be as prepared, as you can. Right yeah.

MW: Great! Thank you very much for your time today, we appreciate that.

LW: You're very welcome.

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